Lessons Learned from a Decrease in Asthma Emergency Department Visits During the COVID-19 Pandemic

On August 4th, researchers from the National Health Service published an article in The Lancet: Respiratory Medicine on “COVID-19 and preschool wheeze care: lessons learned.” The authors explain that, “The pattern of increasing visits to the emergency department by children younger than 5 years with preschool wheeze and other respiratory conditions has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since March, 2020, presentations to the emergency department have decreased among children of all age groups, especially infants and preschool children who are the most frequent attenders. This notable change in asthma exacerbations in children has raised research interest into how the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to this change, and what lessons can be learned.” The authors suggest several potential reasons for the decrease in emergency department visits. For example, they raise the possibility of a decrease in exposure to secondhand smoke. Although the data are inconclusive, the authors point to some data indicating that people have at least attempted smoking cessation during the pandemic. Another possible reason for the decrease in emergency department visits may be the increased use of effective telemedicine strategies. The publication includes recommendations to sustain and ramp up efforts to reduce exposure to environmental asthma triggers and to enhance effective telemedicine strategies. For more details, including other hypotheses, click here.