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Pediatrics. 2019 Jul 1. pii: e20182769. doi: 10.1542/peds.2018-2769. [Epub ahead of print]

Asthma Hospitalizations Among Homeless Children in New York State.

Author information

Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, California;
Department of Pediatrics, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California; and.
Los Angeles Biomedical Research Institute, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Torrance, California.
Division of Allergy-Immunology, Department of Pediatrics, Los Angeles County and University of Southern California Medical Center, Los Angeles, California.



Asthma is widely prevalent among US children, particularly in homeless children, who often lack proper medication storage or the ability to avoid environmental triggers. In this study, we assess asthma-attributed health care use among homeless youth. We hypothesize that asthma hospitalization rates, symptom severity, and admission through the emergency department (ED) will be higher among homeless youth compared with nonhomeless youth.


This secondary data analysis identified homeless and nonhomeless pediatric patients (<18 years old) with a primary diagnosis of asthma from New York statewide inpatient databases between 2009 and 2014. Hospitalization rate, readmission rate, admission through the ED, ventilation use, ICU admittance, hospitalization cost, and length of stay were measured.


We identified 71 837 asthma hospitalizations, yielding 73.8 and 2.3 hospitalizations per 1000 homeless and nonhomeless children, respectively. Hospitalization rates varied by nonhomeless income quartile, with low-income children experiencing higher rates (5.4) of hospitalization. Readmissions accounted for 16.0% of homeless and 12.5% of nonhomeless hospitalizations. Compared with nonhomeless patients, homeless patients were more likely to be admitted from the ED (odds ratio 1.96; 95% confidence interval: 1.82-2.12; P < .01), and among patients >5 years old, homeless patients were more likely to receive ventilation (odds ratio 1.45; 95% confidence interval: 1.01-2.09; P = .04). No significant differences were observed in ICU admittance, cost, or length of stay.


Homeless youth experience an asthma hospitalization rate 31 times higher than nonhomeless youth, with higher rates of readmission. Homeless youth live under uniquely challenging circumstances. Tailored asthma control strategies and educational intervention could greatly reduce hospitalizations.


Conflict of interest statement

POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST: The authors have indicated they have no potential conflicts of interest to disclose.

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