WEDNESDAY, Jan. 8, 2020 (HealthDay News) — The Santa Ana Wind-driven fire in San Diego County in 2017 correlated with an increase in pediatric respiratory visits across all pediatric age groups, according to a study published online Dec. 20 in the Annals of the American Thoracic Society.

Sydney Leibel, M.D., M.P.H., from Rady Children’s Hospital San Diego, and colleagues quantified and examined the health care utilization effects of the December 2017 Lilac Fire in San Diego County among pediatric patients. Pediatric respiratory visits at Rady Children’s Hospital (RCH) emergency department (ED) and urgent care (UC) clinics during the Lilac Fire from Dec. 7 to 16, 2017, were retrospectively analyzed.

The researchers found that across all pediatric age groups, the Lilac Fire correlated with 16.0 excess respiratory visits per day at the RCH ED. The highest absolute excess respiratory visits per day occurred for children aged 0 to 5 years (7.3 visits), while the highest relative increase in visits was seen for children aged 6 to 12 years (3.4 visits). Similar results were seen at RCH UC clinics. In San Diego County, the top five ZIP codes with the highest standard deviations of age-adjusted respiratory visits were located downwind of the fire perimeter.

“Future wildfires will increasingly affect a larger susceptible pediatric population and will require greater preparedness and evidence-based mitigation efforts,” the authors write.

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