Objective. To use administrative data to determine whether adverse asthma outcomes for pediatric asthma hospitalizations are related to specific clinical and nonclinical patient characteristics.

Design. Cross-sectional study.

Setting. All pediatric (0 to 17 years of age) asthma-related hospital discharges, 1986 to 1993, in California.

Patients. A total of 113 974 eligible patients with asthma-related discharges.

Main Outcome Measure. Adverse asthma outcomes (intubation, cardiopulmonary arrest, and death).

Results. Adverse asthma outcomes occurred in 0.48% of subjects. The frequency of adverse asthma outcomes increased during the 1990s compared with 1986. After controlling for differences in gender, age, specific comorbid conditions, year, race, and insurance type, adverse asthma outcomes were more likely to occur in the 5- to 11-year-old group (odds ratio [OR]: 1.39; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.13–1.69) and in the 12- to 17-year-old group (OR: 4.48; CI: 3.20–6.21) compared with those children in the 0 to 4-year-old age group. Asian Pacific-American children were more likely (OR: 1.59; CI: 1.24–2.59) than were white children to experience an adverse asthma outcome. Children who had a secondary diagnoses of pneumonia (OR: 1.54; CI: 1.19–2.00) also were more likely to experience an adverse asthma outcome. The odds of an adverse outcome increased progressively after 1986, becoming significant after 1989. Gender and insurance type were not associated with increased odds of experiencing an adverse asthma outcome.

Conclusions. Adverse asthma outcomes among hospitalized children are increasing in the 1990s and are associated with specific clinical and nonclinical patient characteristics.

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