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Kids with asthma more likely to need hospital care during heat waves

By HealthDay News
Daytime heat waves are associated with 19% increased odds that a child with asthma will wind up in the hospital, researchers discovered.
 
 Photo by coltsfan/Pixabay
Daytime heat waves are associated with 19% increased odds that a child with asthma will wind up in the hospital, researchers discovered. Photo by coltsfan/Pixabay

Heat waves and heat domes are particularly dangerous to kids with asthma, a new study finds.

Daytime heat waves are associated with 19% increased odds that a child with asthma will wind up in the hospital, researchers discovered.

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What's more, heat waves that stretch for days double a kid's risk of being hospitalized due to asthma.

"We found that both daily high heat events and extreme temperatures that lasted several days increased the risk of asthma hospital visits," said researcher Morgan Ye, a research data analyst with the University of California, San Francisco School of Medicine (UCSF).

For the study, the team analyzed data from the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland between 2017 and 2020, using climate data to determine the timing of heat waves for each zip code in the hospital's service area.

"We continue to see global temperatures rise due to human-generated climate change, and we can expect a rise in health-related issues as we observe longer, more frequent and severe heat waves," Ye said in a UCSF news release.

Hot and humid weather is a common asthma trigger, the American Lung Association says. Such weather also increases smog levels.

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Past studies have linked extreme heat with asthma, but it's been unclear whether heat waves can lead to asthma attacks so bad that children will need hospitalization, researchers said.

This study also is unique because it also studied the effects of persistent heat waves, they added.

"Our research suggests that higher temperatures and increased duration of these high heat days are associated with increased risk of hospital visits due to asthma," Ye said. "Children and families with lower adaptation capacity will experience most of the burden."

The researchers noted that the San Francisco Bay area typically doesn't reach the extreme temperatures experienced elsewhere in the country, suggesting that even milder heat waves could harm children's health.

"These results can be used to inform targeted actions and resources for vulnerable children and alleviate health-related stress during heat waves," the researchers concluded.

The study was presented Sunday at the American Thoracic Society's annual meeting in San Diego. Findings presented at medical meetings should be considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The American Lung Association has more on heat and asthma.

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