Background: Pediatric asthma exacerbations may correlate with changes in weather, yet this relationship is not well defined.
Objective: To determine the effects of fluctuations in climatic factors (temperature, humidity, and barometric pressure) on pediatric asthma exacerbations.
Methods: A retrospective study was performed at 1 large urban hospital during a 2-year period (January 1, 2004, to December 31, 2005). Children presenting to the emergency department (ED) for an asthma exacerbation were included. Data on climactic factors, pollutants, and aeroallergens were collected daily. The relationship of daily (intraday) or between-day (interday) changes in climactic factors and asthma ED visits was evaluated using time series analysis, controlling for seasonality, air pollution, and aeroallergen exposure. The effects of climactic factors were evaluated on the day of admission (T=0) and up to 5 days before admission (T-5 through T-1).
Results: There were 25,401 asthma ED visits. A 10% intraday increase in humidity on day T-1 or day T-2 was associated with approximately 1 additional ED visit for asthma (P < .001 and P = .01, respectively). Interday changes in humidity from day T - 3 to T-2 were also associated with more ED visits (P < .001). Interday changes in temperature from T-1 to T = 0 increased ED visits, with a 10 degrees F increase being associated with 1.8 additional visits (P = .006). No association was found with changes in barometric pressure.
Conclusion: Fluctuations in humidity and temperature, but not barometric pressure, appear to influence ED visits for pediatric asthma. The additional ED visits occur 1 to 2 days after the fluctuation.