Dr. Daryl Adamko (MD) is the division head for pediatric respirology and the director of pediatric research at the College of Medicine.
Dr. Daryl Adamko (MD) is the division head for pediatric respirology and the director of pediatric research at the College of Medicine.

Dr. Darryl Adamko: Little Lungs, Lessons Learned

Diagnosing pulmonary diseases like asthma in young children is still largely a matter of trial and error, according to Saskatchewan’s top pediatric respirologist.

 Listen to all episodes of the Researchers Under the Scope podcast.


As viruses and colds tear through schools and daycares across North America, Dr. Darryl Adamko (MD) wants to change that. 

“If you have asthma this year and you're not taking your inhaled steroids, well you're rolling the dice,” said Adamko, who’s watched an influx of young patients over the past few months at the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in Saskatoon. 

In children, problems with breathing are the leading cause of hospitalizations.  

Undiagnosed asthma and other pulmonary conditions in children mean small patients have a much tougher fight when they’re infected by COVID-19, RSV or influenza. 

“You have to be taking those preventative drugs first before the virus finds you,” said Adamko, who splits his time between clinical rotations as the College of Medicine’s Division Head for Pediatric Respirology, and as the Director of Pediatric Research. 

He’s devoted more than a decade to pinning down biomarkers for pulmonary disease as he develops a diagnostic tool for family doctors.

“We still really don't have a great test for preschool kids. It's just history for the most part,” he said.  

Adamko sees a future where family doctors could diagnose and monitor asthma by taking a urine sample. 

Using mass spectrometry and nuclear magnetic resonance imaging, he and his team have spent more than a decade analyzing urine samples and refining their methodology. 

“Now that we've got enough urine samples analyzed I think we've got a good signal,” said Adamko.

His goal is to create a urine test that would give giving family doctors and pediatricians a fast, more efficient and accurate way to diagnose pulmonary conditions long before kids arrive at the hospital. 

In this episode, he also explains why a resurgence of RSV and other viruses after years of COVID restrictions is hitting young patients hard. 

“It's really bad for little babies. It loves the smallest little airways,” Adamko said. “This year the problem is still, we've got a bunch of two-year-olds, and one-year-olds who have never seen these viruses.”