Prevalence of and Spending on Ear, Nose, Throat, and Respiratory Infections Among Children With Chronic Complex Conditions

Acad Pediatr. 2023 Mar;23(2):434-440. doi: 10.1016/j.acap.2022.07.004. Epub 2022 Sep 16.


Objective: Ear, nose, throat, and respiratory infections (ENTRI) may affect children with complex chronic conditions (CCC) differently than their peers. We compared ENTRI prevalence and spending in children with and without CCCs.

Methods: Retrospective analysis of 3,880,456 children ages 0-to-18 years enrolled in 9 US state Medicaid programs in 2018 contained in the IBM Watson Marketscan Database. Type and number of CCCs were distinguished with Feudtner's system. ENTRI prevalence, defined as ≥1 healthcare encounters for ENTRI, and Medicaid spending on ENTRI were compared by CCC using chi-square tests and logistic regression.

Results: ENTRIs were greater in children with vs. without a CCC (57.7% vs 43.5% [P < .001]). Children with a CCC (5.5%, n = 213,425) accounted for nearly one-fourth ($145.8 million [US]) of total spending on ENTRI. Aside from throat and sinus infection, ENTRI prevalence increased with number of CCCs (P < .001). For example, as number of CCCs increased from zero to ≥3, lower-airway infection increased from 12.5% to 37.5%, P < .001 (OR 4.10; 95% CI 3.95-4.26). ENTRI spending attributable to inpatient care increased from 9.7% to 92.8% (P < .001) as the number of CCCs increased from zero to ≥3.

Conclusion: Most children with a CCC pursued care for ENTRI in 2018 and these children accounted for a disproportionate share of ENTRI spending. Children with multiple CCCs had a high prevalence of lower-airway infection; most of their ENTRI spending was for inpatient care. Providers can use these findings to counsel patients and families and to inform future investigations on how best to manage ENTRI in children with CCCs.

Keywords: acute illness; children; chronic conditions; respiratory infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pharynx*
  • Prevalence
  • Respiratory Tract Infections*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • United States