Asthma and allergy disorders are two of the most common chronic non-communicable illnesses in children. Although epidemiologic studies suggest that asthma begins in the preschool years, the lack of firm diagnostic criteria to distinguish children who will wheeze only transiently during early-life lower respiratory illnesses from children who will wheeze persistently and develop asthma prevents pinpointing the time at which disease truly begins. Epigenetic processes relate gene regulation to environmental signals and developmental pathways. This article discusses the quest for epigenetic predictors of asthma and/or allergy that can be discovered at birth or early in life. There are DNA methylation profiles linked with asthma and/or allergy at birth, as well as time-dependent DNA methylation patterns associated with allergic disease phenotypes throughout childhood.

The discovery of early epigenetic predictors of allergy illnesses suggests that epigenetic processes may play a role in controlling the onset and susceptibility to these diseases. Predictive markers that assess a child’s risk for asthma and allergies may enhance pediatric asthma diagnosis. Furthermore, knowing the biological consequences of these signatures may aid in the discovery of new disease pathways and endotypes.