(HealthDay News) — For children aged 2–15 years, asthma exacerbations and asthma medication prescriptions peak in September, correlating with the start of the school year, according to a study published online March 10 in Pediatrics.
Herman Avner Cohen, MD, from Tel Aviv University in Israel, and colleagues conducted a retrospective population study to examine seasonal variations in asthma in a population of children (aged 2–15 years) in primary care. Data were collected from electronic medical records for family physician-reported diagnoses of asthma exacerbations and asthma medication prescriptions for 919,873 children during 2005–2009.
The researchers found that 8.9% of the children were asthmatic (61.6% boys and 38.4% girls). Compared with August, during September, there was a 2.01-fold increase in pediatric asthma exacerbations and a 2.28-fold increase in prescriptions of asthma bronchodilator medications. Children aged 2–5 years and 6–11 years had the greatest correlations between the opening of school and the incidence of asthma-related visits to the primary care physician (2.15-fold and 1.90-fold increase, respectively). A lesser peak was seen for adolescents aged 12–15 years (1.81-fold increase). A second rise was seen in the late fall, with fluctuations observed throughout winter and a low point observed in the summer.
“Returning to school after summer is strongly associated with an increased risk for asthma exacerbations and unscheduled visits to the primary care physician,” the authors write.