Pediatric Asthma Program

The Pediatric Asthma Program, affiliated with NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, provides expert diagnosis, second opinions, and comprehensive care for children who suffer from mild, moderate, or severe asthma. We also specialize in the evaluation and treatment of wheezy infants.

Asthma is a condition in which inflammation of the airways causes them to narrow, which leads to breathing difficulties, coughing, and wheezing. Children with asthma face unique challenges, including missed activities, absence from school, and difficulty sleeping. We will help you identify the causes of your child’s asthma, learn to avoid triggers, and, when necessary, treat it with appropriate medications. With proper management, most of our patients are able to control their asthma and live normal, active childhoods.

For many children with asthma, the underlying causes involve allergies. Your child’s breathing issues may be triggered by airborne allergens such as pollen, mold, and pet dander, or an allergy to foods, insects, medicines, or chemicals. Identifying these triggers—and learning to avoid them—is a key part of treatment. Our program includes pulmonologists and allergists with extensive asthma expertise, who work together in a coordinated fashion to evaluate and treat more than 1,000 young patients with breathing issues each year.

Diagnosing Childhood Asthma

If your child is experiencing symptoms such as difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, wheezing, or bouts of coughing that get worse at night, during exercise, or during a cold or flu, you will want to know if the symptoms indicate asthma.

We will start with a full medical exam and some tests, which may include:

  • Lung function testing, including spirometry, lung volumes, diffusing capacity, exhaled nitric oxide, which measures how much air your child inhales and exhales and how much inflammation there may be in your child’s lungs
  • Allergy skin testing helps us understand how your child reacts to a range of possible allergens, including indoor allergens withing your home, outdoor allergens like trees, or certain foods.
  • Exercise challenges evaluate how your child’s airways react to physical activity and exercise.
  • Blood tests that can help us determine how your child’s immune system may be affecting your child’s symptoms. We may also want to rule out other disorders that mimic asthma or exist with asthma to cause difficulty breathing in your child.

Our asthma experts include specialists from both allergy and pulmonology, who work closely together to determine the cause and best treatment for your child’s asthma. Our team also includes certified asthma educators, nurses, and a social worker who can help your child and your family through the diagnostic process and provide ongoing asthma education.

Treatment at Columbia for Childhood Asthma

We take a family-centered approach to asthma treatment, working closely with our young patients and their families, along with our certified asthma educators, to manage their condition. We believe the family-physician partnership is key to successful treatment. As partners, we will work together to:

  • Understand and learn how to avoid your child’s asthma triggers
  • Learn how and when to use medication
  • Create an emergency plan for how and when to respond to asthma attacks

Treatment will include an evaluation of your child’s environment and a plan to avoid the things that trigger his or her asthma, which may include pets, dust, or certain activities.

For most children with asthma, medication is part of the overall treatment plan. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, medication can include ongoing, long-term controller medications, or short-term bronchodilators that relieve asthma attacks. Treatment may include biologics, or medications that are injected every few weeks. We work closely with families to ensure that they understand their child’s medications and know how and when to use them.

Access to the Latest Research and Clinical Trials

Our active asthma research program includes national leaders in asthma research supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other organizations. Our patients benefit from clinical trials of the latest therapies. We are currently studying:

  • Environmental interventions in the management of asthma
  • Immunologic approaches to reduce asthma
  • Role of obesity in asthma
  • The relationship between the onset of allergy and onset of asthma
  • Air pollution exposure and asthma, allergy
  • Chemical exposure and asthma, allergy
  • Environmental epigenetic regulation of asthma, allergy
  • Underlying mechanisms of allergic diseases
  • Genetic causes for allergic diseases associated with asthma
  • Prevention in children at high risk for developing asthma


Our doctors see patients at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital, and at several outpatient locations in Manhattan, Westchester, and Connecticut.

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