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Repeated hospital encounters for asthma in children and exposure to traffic-related air pollution near the home.



Aggregate hospital encounters for asthma (admissions or emergency department visits) have been associated with daily regional air pollution. There are fewer data on relationships between repeated hospital encounters and traffic-related air pollution near the home.


To estimate the association of local traffic-generated air pollution with repeated hospital encounters for asthma in children.


Hospital records for 2,768 children aged 0 to 18 years (697 of whom had > or = 2 encounters) were obtained for a catchment area of 2 hospitals in northern Orange County, California. Residential addresses were geocoded. A line source dispersion model was used to estimate individual seasonal exposures to local traffic-generated pollutants (nitrogen oxides and carbon monoxide) longitudinally beginning with the first hospital encounter. Recurrent proportional hazards analysis was used to estimate risk of exposure to air pollution adjusting for sex, age, health insurance, census-derived poverty, race/ethnicity, residence distance to hospital, and season. The adjustment variables and census-derived median household income were tested for effect modification.


Adjusted hazard ratios for interquartile range increases in nitrogen oxides (4.00 ppb) and carbon monoxide (0.056 ppm) were 1.10 (95% confidence interval, 1.03-1.16) and 1.07 (1.01-1.14), respectively. Associations were strongest for girls and infants but were not significantly different from other groups. Stronger associations in children from higher-income block groups (P < .09 for trend) may have been due to more accurate data.


Associations for repeated hospital encounters suggest that locally generated air pollution near the home affects asthma severity in children. Risk may begin during infancy and continue in later childhood, when asthma diagnoses are clearer.

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