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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 1996 Mar;97(3):742-8.

Decrease in hospitalization for treatment of childhood asthma with increased use of antiinflammatory treatment, despite an increase in prevalence of asthma.

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, University of Göteborg, Ostra Hospital, Sweden.



During the past 15 years, the prevalence of asthma in children in Sweden has doubled. However, since 1985, antiinflammatory treatment with inhaled steroids has increased continuously.


The aim of this study was to analyze the net effect of these changes in terms of hospitalization of children for treatment of asthma.


The numbers of hospital days, admissions, and individual patients admitted to the Children's Hospital in Göteborg because of acute asthma were recorded from 1985 through 1993. all the in-patient treatment of children is centralized at this hospital (i.e., the study was population-based). Göteborg has half a million inhabitants. Hospitalization policies were not altered during the study period.


In children aged 2 to 18 years, the number of hospital days per year gradually decreased to less than a third (r = 0.9; p less than 0.001), and admissions decreased by 45% (r = 0.7; p less than 0.05). The decrease in hospitalization was most marked in the group older than the age of 5 years in which hospital days were reduced to one fifth (r = 0.9; p less than 0.0001) and admissions were halved (r = 0.8; p less than 0.05). A decreasing trend in number of hospital days was also seen in the 2- to 5-year-old group. The number of individual patients admitted did not show a statistically significant decreasing trend. In children under the age of 2 years, the number of hospital days fluctuated, and there was no clear-cut change with time.


Although increased concentration on the education of parents and patients may have been a contributing factor, the major reason for the decrease in hospitalization in the group of children aged 2 to 18 years is most probably antiinflammatory treatment with inhaled steroids. The results suggest that this is a very cost-effective therapeutic approach.

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