Different sensitivities to ambient temperature between first- and re-admission childhood asthma cases in Hong Kong - A time series study

Environ Res. 2019 Mar:170:487-492. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2018.12.002. Epub 2018 Dec 4.


Objectives: Asthma can be triggered by various factors due to different etiologies. Environmental factors remain a common trigger of asthma, especially amongst children, and such ambient exposures can be harder to avoid compared to behavioral triggers. As such, the contribution of environmental factors may be enhanced when considering repeat asthma cases compared to initial presentations. To test this hypothesis, we assessed associations between ambient temperature and hospital admissions for asthma in Hong Kong and stratified admission records into first and repeat asthma hospitalizations.

Methods: The daily number of asthma hospitalizations among children aged 0-5 years in Hong Kong during 2007-2011 was regressed on daily mean temperature using distributed lagged nonlinear models, with adjustment for seasonal patterns, day-of-week effects, and other meteorological factors and air-pollutants. Analyses were stratified by summer/winter and by type of admission (first admission and repeated admission).

Results: About 33% of the 12284 asthma hospitalizations were repeat admissions. Repeat admissions demonstrated higher sensitivity to high temperature in the summer. During this period, high temperatures were associated with increased risk of repeat admission but not with first admissions: RR (95% CI) comparing 31 °C vs. 29 °C across lags 0-15 days was 3.40 (1.26, 9.18) and 0.74 (0.31, 1.77) for repeat and first admissions respectively. In the cold season, all admissions increased with falls in temperature, with slightly stronger associations apparent for repeat admissions compared to first admission: 1.20 (1.00, 1.44) vs. 1.10 (0.96, 1.26) respectively comparing risk at 15 °C vs. 12 °C across lags 0-5 days.

Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first study to show stronger associations between ambient temperature and repeat asthma admissions compared to first admissions. The higher sensitivity among those experiencing repeat admissions may allow for more personalized disease management. Given the substantial differences in associations by admission type, future studies of ambient exposures on asthma should consider analyzing the two groups separately.

Keywords: Asthma; Children; First-admission; Re-admissions; Temperature.

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollutants*
  • Air Pollution / statistics & numerical data*
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Hong Kong / epidemiology
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Seasons
  • Temperature


  • Air Pollutants