Increase in childhood asthma admissions in an urbanising population
Objective. In South Africa, rapid urbanisation has increased the risk of childhood asthma. This report reviews the pattern of asthma admissions to the Paediatric Department of Ga-Rankuwa Hospital, South Africa, from 1986 to 1996.
Design. Inpatient admission data were reviewed for 1986- 1996. A detailed analysis of the records of asthma patients admitted between 1992 and 1996 was done. Outpatient data were reviewed from 1992.
Setting. Ga-Rankuwa Hospital, situated on the border of the Gauteng and orth West provinces of South Africa and serving a large black population in various stages of urbanisation.
Main outcome measures. Trends in admission numbers and demographic characteristics.
Results. Asthma admissions were 2.5 times higher in 1996 than 1986. The greatest increase in admissions was in the 1 - 47-month age group. The male to female ratio was 1.5:1. More patients came from urban than from rural areas. Admissions peaked during the summer. Re-admissions occurred most frequently within 3 months of the first admission.
Conclusion. Paediatric asthma admissions have shown an increase in the past decade. This may be associated with changes in the environment of the community. There is a need for preventive programmes for asthma at community and national level.
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