Aim: To analyse changes in hospitalization rates for asthma in children during recent years.
Methods: In a population-based analysis, changes in asthma hospitalization rates were studied in children in Göteborg (Gothenburg), the second largest city in Sweden, during 1985-2000. The changes in different age groups have been correlated with the delivery of inhaled corticosteroids to the age groups.
Results: In the 5 to 18-y age group, there was a continuous, significant decrease in number of hospital days, admissions and individual patients admitted for asthma not only for the entire study period, 1985-2000, but also during the past 10-y period. The number of hospital days in the year 2000 was only 6% of the figure for 1985. An inverse correlation between delivery of inhaled corticosteroids and hospitalization for asthma was seen not only during 1985-1995, when use of inhaled corticosteroids became widespread (r(s) = -0.95, p = 0.007 for hospital days), but also when the entire period from 1985 to 2000 was analysed. Conversely, in the 0 to 1-y and 2 to 4-y age groups, there was no decrease in hospitalizations for wheezing illnesses or asthma-like symptoms during the past 10-y period, 1991-2000.
Conclusion: During the period 1985-2000 the number of hospital days owing to asthma decreased by more than 90% in the 5 to 18-y age group. The marked decrease in asthma hospitalization rates among schoolchildren represents a great advance in paediatric respiratory medicine, which has been continuous during the past 10-y period. However, in young children admissions for wheezing have apparently not decreased.