Factors associated with short-term clinical outcomes after acute treatment of asthma in a pediatric emergency department

Javier Benito-Fernández, Estibaliz Onis-González, Julio Alvarez-Pitti, Susana Capapé-Zache, Miguel A Vázquez-Ronco, Santiago Mintegi-Raso
Pediatric Pulmonology 2004, 38 (2): 123-8
Outcomes of emergency room treatment of children with asthma have not been well-documented. The purpose of this study was to describe the short-term clinical course of children aged 0-14 years after standard treatment for an acute asthma exacerbation in a pediatric emergency department, and to determine factors associated with follow-up morbidity. This was a prospective cohort study of a randomly selected sample of children with asthma who required treatment for an acute asthma exacerbation during the year 2002. A clinical chart was filled out by the attending pediatrician during the emergency department visit. Participants were interviewed by telephone at 7 and 15 days after the pediatric emergency visit. The study population included 258 children; 125 of them (48.4%) were <2 years old. Eighty-nine percent of children reported a visit with his/her primary asthma care provider during the first week after discharge from the emergency department. A total of 185 children missed 1 or more days of school, with a mean of 3.1 +/- 2.7 days (range, 1-23 days). Twenty-nine patients (11%) returned for medical care at the emergency department, 22 (8.5%) of them during the first week after discharge, and 4 (1.6%) required hospitalization. At the first follow-up control (day 7), 111 patients (43%) reported persistent symptoms and/or difficult breathing, and 157 (61%) were still using asthma medication. At the second follow-up control (day 15), 53 patients (20.5%) reported persistent respiratory symptoms, and 69 (26.7%) used asthma medication. In children >2 years of age, the percentage of patients with respiratory symptoms on day 7 was significantly lower among those who reported maintenance therapy with inhaled steroids (23.7% vs. 46%, P = 0.006). On day 7, asthma symptoms were more frequent in children <2 years of age compared to older children showed a higher percentage of asthma symptoms (50% vs. 36%, P = 0.014). Children <2 years old compared to older children also missed more days school or day nursery (4.48 +/- 4.62 days vs. 2.4 +/- 2.19 days). The short-term outcome of asthma children attended at the emergency department is worse than expected, according to rates of rehospitalization and return for medical care after discharge. Maintenance treatment with inhaled steroids favored a prompt recovery in children older than 2 years of age, whereas the short-term outcome of children aged <2 years was not influenced by any variable.

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