THURSDAY, Dec. 10, 2020 — During the COVID-19 spring lockdown, there was a decrease in pediatric asthma-related emergency department visits, according to a study published online Dec. 4 in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.
Tregony Simoneau, M.D., from Boston Children’s Hospital, and colleagues examined the effects of measures taken to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 on the frequency of asthma-related pediatric emergency department visits in a retrospective cohort study.
The researchers identified 2,543 total emergency department asthma visits for patients aged 2 to 22 years between Jan. 5 and May 23 across 2018, 2019, and 2020. Compared with 2018 and 2019, in 2020, the number and proportion of asthma emergency department visits were significantly lower. The percent of asthma exacerbations that needed admission to the hospital was not significantly higher in 2020 versus 2018 but was higher than in 2019. The incidence of emergency department visits was significantly decreased after the shutdown in 2020 versus 2018 and 2019 (incidence rate ratios, 0.21 and 0.18, respectively) after adjustment for year, weeks, and time period. The rate of emergency department visits was similar for the week of March 15 to 21 across years. However, the rate of emergency department visits decreased 80 and 82 percent the following week in 2020 relative to 2018 and 2019, respectively; the reductions persisted through May 23 (82 and 87 percent, respectively).
“Our most significant finding was the drastic, sudden drop in emergency department visits shortly after schools closed and the stay-at-home order went into effect,” Simoneau said in a statement. “How this drop was sustained over several months is quite notable.”
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