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Revolutionary technology has potential to help children with asthma

BHP members Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospitals have initiated a new study which could potentially revolutionise care for young people with asthma using artificial intelligence technology.

Over the next two years, 50 children and families will take part in the Childhood Home Asthma Monitoring  Study (CHAMP), which uses a small table-top electronic device designed by Albus Health, not dissimilar in size to an Amazon ‘Alexa’ virtual assistant, to personally monitor a child’s symptoms and breathing while they sleep.

Using sensors and a microphone, it measures breathing and heart rate by analysing coughs, wheezing and other noises, while also assessing environmental factors, such as humidity and air pollution levels. The data collected over a period of months will help form a unique and personalised set of triggers which is able to warn of a future asthma attack days before it potentially happens, allowing for action to be taken.

Around one in 11 children in the UK has asthma and it’s one of the most common chronic conditions which causes hospitalisations. The potential of this AI technology is potentially huge; positively impacting thousands in the future.

Dr Prasad Nagakumar, Respiratory Consultant, is the Chief Investigator leading this exciting £1.6million CHAMP study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research. He’s looking forward to working alongside partners including Asthma UK, Imperial College London, Oxford Academic Health Science Network and Royal Brompton Hospital, where patients are also being recruited to take part.

Dr Nagakumar said: “I’m delighted that we’ve now started this exciting study, which has such a huge potential. Over the next two years we’ll be working hard to further understand and develop the use of this innovative monitoring and, importantly, prediction technology.

“Our aim is to build algorithms and clinical-supporting tools for the early detection of asthma attacks in children by capturing warning signs before patients or those giving care perceive them.”

Professor Jeremy Kirk, Clinical Director NIHR Clinical Research Network (West Midlands) and Research and Innovation Director at our Children’s Hospital, said: “Asthma is the most common chronic disease in childhood and blights many lives. This project utilises the very newest cutting-edge technologies to give us further understanding of this condition, hopefully enabling better monitoring, optimal care and a reduction in hospital admissions.

“Dr Nagakumar and the team are to be congratulated on being awarded this highly competitive and prestigious grant.”