Healthcare professionals now understand that there are many different types of asthma and they affect people in very different ways.

An electronic nose can be used to successfully detect different sub-groups of asthmatic children, the findings showed.

"By classifying asthma into different sub-groups, we might be able to provide much more tailored treatment for each individual," said lead author of the study Paul Brinkman from the Academic Medical Centre in the Netherlands.

Researchers already know that electronic noses have the potential to help health professionals understand more about a range of lung diseases.

"In this study, we have shown that they are an effective method of understanding more about the subtle differences existing between people with asthma," Brinkman added.

The new study analyzed the profile of exhaled breath from the samples of 106 children with asthma or wheeze.

This involved looking at particles in the breath known as exhaled volatile compounds, which were then analyzed by electronic noses.

The results showed five distinct sub-groups. Each cluster contained patients with similar breath profiles.

When comparing the clinical characteristics of these groups they differed in age and asthma symptoms.

The findings were presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress in Munich on Sunday.

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