Asthma has become the most common chronic disease in children, and that plus a corresponding increase in modern helicoptering parenting one of the reasons there are so many emergency department visits for asthma in the US.

A new study presented at the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) Annual Scientific Meeting has determined that the probability of future acute care visits increased from 30 percent with one historical acute care visit to 87 percent with more than five acute care visits, based on records for more than 10,000 children seen for asthma in a three-year period. It focused on acute care visits which included emergency departments, urgent care centers and inpatient admissions at hospitals. 

"The historical count of acute care visits was predictive of future acute care visits," said allergist Jill Hanson, MD, study author and ACAAI member. "And a significant increase in the probability of future acute care visits was observed with each additional historical visit. While the number of patients with five or more historical visits was relatively small, this group of patients accounted for a disproportionate number of future acute care visits."

When asthma is caught early and controlled with the specialized treatment available through an allergist, patients breathe better, have fewer asthma attacks and spend less money on "quick relief" rescue medications. 

"We know when a child is treated for asthma by an allergist, their chance of ending up in the emergency department with an asthma attack is much lower," said allergist Chitra Dinakar, MD, ACAAI fellow. Dinakar reviewed the practice parameter for managing home exacerbations ('Yellow Zone') of asthma. "Our goal is to control asthma well before the child is unable to breathe and needs to be rushed to the emergency department. We do that with individualized therapies and use of asthma action plans which help asthma sufferers recognize when they need help."