Objective: This study evaluated the association of the short-term exposure to environmental factors (relative humidity, temperature, NO2, SO2, O3, PM10, and CO) with hospital admissions due to acute viral lower respiratory infections (ALRI) in children under two years before the COVID-19 era.
Methods: We performed a bidirectional case-crossover study in 30,445 children with ALRI under two years of age in the Spanish Minimum Basic Data Set (MBDS) from 2013 to 2015. Environmental data were obtained from Spain's State Meteorological Agency (AEMET). The association was assessed by conditional logistic regression.
Results: Lower temperature one week before the day of the event (hospital admission) (q-value = 0.012) and higher relative humidity one week (q-value = 0.003) and two weeks (q-value<0.001) before the day of the event were related to a higher odds of hospital admissions. Higher NO2 levels two weeks before the event were associated with hospital admissions (q-value<0.001). Moreover, higher concentrations on the day of the event for SO2 (compared to lag time of 1-week (q-value = 0.026) and 2-weeks (q-value<0.001)), O3 (compared to lag time of 3-days (q-value<0.001), 1-week (q-value<0.001), and 2-weeks (q-value<0.001)), and PM10 (compared to lag time of 2-weeks (q-value<0.001)) were related to an increased odds of hospital admissions for viral ALRI.
Conclusion: Short-term exposure to environmental factors (climatic conditions and ambient air contaminants) was linked to a higher likelihood of hospital admissions due to ALRI. Our findings emphasize the importance of monitoring environmental factors to assess the odds of ALRI hospital admissions and plan public health resources.
Keywords: Acute lower respiratory infections; Children; Environment; ICD-9-CM; Pollution; Respiratory virus.
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