The effect of the COVID-19 lockdown on children with asthma-related symptoms: A tertiary care center experience.Pediatr Pulmonol. 2021 09; 56(9):2825-2832.PP
Acute asthma exacerbations are a common cause for emergency department (ED) visits and hospitalizations in children. Since the outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and the education system closure/total lockdown in Israel on March 2020, we have noticed a decrease in pediatric ED visits and an increase in hospitalizations of asthma exacerbations.
to examine the patterns of ED visits for asthma exacerbations during COVID-19 outbreak, in comparison to the previous year.
A retrospective study comparing asthma related ED visits and hospitalizations among children aged 2-18 years at a tertiary center in southern Israel. Three time periods were selected: 2020 A (prelockdown, 2/1/20 to 3/14/20), 2020 B (lockdown, 3/15/20 to 5/15/20) and 2020 C (postlockdown, 5/16/20 to 6/30/20) and compared to the three parallel time periods in 2019. Data regarding demographics, number of ED visits and clinical severity parameters were collected and analyzed.
Five hundred and twelve children visited the ED for asthma exacerbation: 273 children during 2019 and 239 children during 2020. Lockdown period in 2020 revealed significantly fewer ED visits per day compared to the parallel calendar period in 2019 (1.8 vs. 1.43, p < .001). Significantly higher hospitalization rate (47.1% vs. 33.7%, p = .05) and longer length of stay (3.15 vs. 1.9 days, p = .03) were observed during the lockdown.
Lockdown is associated with fewer ED visits for asthma exacerbation, probably due to; reduced exposure to viral infections and environmental allergens, decreased availability of primary physicians and families' reluctance to arrive to the ED. ED visits during lockdown were characterized by higher hospitalization rate and longer LOS.