HealthDay News — The COVID-19 pandemic in Philadelphia has brought changes in pediatric asthma care delivery patterns, according to a study published online Aug. 19 in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

Kiara Taquechel, from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, and colleagues sought to identify changes in pediatric asthma-related health care utilization, respiratory viral testing, and air pollution during the COVID-19 pandemic. The analysis included asthma-related encounters, and weekly summaries of respiratory viral testing data were extracted from electronic health records for the dates of Jan. 17 to May 17 for the years 2015 through 2020.

The researchers found that after March 17, 2020, in-person asthma encounters decreased by 87 percent for outpatient visits and by 84 percent for emergency and inpatient visits. While not previously available, video telemedicine became the most highly utilized asthma encounter modality (61 percent). There was also a 19 percent increase in telephone encounters. While visit modality shifted, there were also simultaneous decreases in asthma-related systemic steroid prescriptions and frequency of rhinovirus test positivity. Air pollution levels did not substantially change, compared to historical trends.

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“We should explore whether enhanced infection-prevention measures have utility in children with asthma, irrespective of COVID-19,” a coauthor said in a statement.

One author disclosed financial ties to Horizon Pharma.

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