Background: Asthma exacerbations remain common, even in children and adolescents, despite optimal medical management. Identification of host risk factors for exacerbations is incomplete, particularly for seasonal episodes.
Objective: We sought to define host risk factors for asthma exacerbations unique to their season of occurrence.
Methods: This is a retrospective analysis of patients aged 6 to 20 years who comprised the control groups of the Asthma Control Evaluation study and the Inner City Anti-IgE Therapy for Asthma study. Univariate and multivariate models were constructed to determine whether patients' demographic and historical factors, allergic sensitization, fraction of exhaled nitric oxide values, spirometric measurements, asthma control, and treatment requirements were associated with seasonal exacerbations.
Results: The analysis included 400 patients (54.5% male; 59.0% African American; median age, 13 years). Exacerbations occurred in 37.5% of participants over the periods of observation and were most common in the fall (28.8% of participants). In univariate analysis impaired pulmonary function was significantly associated with greater odds of exacerbations for all seasons, as was an exacerbation in the previous season for all seasons except spring. In multivariate analysis exacerbation in the previous season was the strongest predictor in fall and winter, whereas a higher requirement for inhaled corticosteroids was the strongest predictor in spring and summer. The multivariate models had the best predictive power for fall exacerbations (30.5% variance attributed).
Conclusions: Among a large cohort of inner-city children with asthma, patients' risk factors for exacerbation vary by season. Thus information on individual patients might be beneficial in strategies to prevent these seasonal events.
Keywords: Asthma; IgE; allergy; asthma exacerbations; biomarkers; eosinophils; exhaled nitric oxide; pulmonary function; seasons.
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