Pulmonary function tests are commonly used within research to characterize disease patterns of obstructive
airway diseases, and to describe lung growth and development. 20 out of 52 European birth cohorts within the ENRIECOand
GA2LEN-networks reported a total of 80 investigation time-points using pulmonary function assessments.
Information on published results and guidelines used were complemented through publicly available data and peer
reviewed journals. Only 4 cohorts used the same test for at least 3 time-points during their follow-up. The tests were used
to classify airway obstruction, bronchodilator response and bronchial hyperresponsiveness. Related methods assessed
airway inflammation non-invasively. International guidelines, used in clinical practice, (American Thoracic Society/
European Respiratory Society) should be considered and referred to whenever possible to improve comparability. A
consensus on when and how pulmonary function tests are beneficial in population based research, assessing lung growth
or asthma subtypes, is needed.
Keywords: Asthma, exhaled nitric oxide, guidelines, lung development, spirometry.
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