The following is a summary of “Do upper respiratory viruses contribute to racial and ethnic disparities in emergency department visits for asthma?,” published in the MARCH 2023 issue of Allergy & Immunology by Bhavnani, et al.
There are significant differences in asthma-related emergency department (ED) visits among children of different races and ethnicities. The COVID-19 prevention measures led to a substantial decline in asthma-related ED visits. It has been suggested that the reduced circulation of upper respiratory viruses, common triggers of asthma exacerbations in children, contributed to the decline. For a study, researchers sought to examine the role of respiratory viruses in racial and ethnic disparities in ED visit rates and aimed to determine whether the decrease in ED visit rates affected Black, Latinx, and White children with asthma equally.
This study extracted asthma-related ED visits from electronic medical records at Dell Children’s Medical Center in Travis County, Texas. The ED visit rates among children with asthma were analyzed by race/ethnicity. The incidence rate ratios (IRRs) and 95% CIs were calculated by year (2019-2021) and season.
In spring 2019, the IRRs of ED visits comparing Black children with White children and Latinx children with White children were 6.67 (95% CI = 4.92-9.05) and 2.10 (95% CI = 1.57-2.80), respectively. However, in spring 2020, when infection prevention measures were implemented, the corresponding IRRs decreased to 1.73 (95% CI = 0.90-3.32) and 0.68 (95% CI = 0.38-1.23), respectively.
The significant reduction in disparities in ED visits suggested that respiratory viruses contributed to the higher burden of asthma-related ED visits among Black and Latinx children during non-pandemic periods. The findings raised whether Black and Latinx children with asthma were more susceptible to upper respiratory viral infections. However, further investigation was necessary to confirm this hypothesis.