BACKGROUND:

Hospitalization for lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) among children have been well characterized. We characterized hospitalizations for severe LRTI among children.

METHODS:

We analyzed claims data from commercial and Medicaid insurance enrollees (MarketScan) ages 0 to 18 years from 2007 to 2011. LRTI hospitalizations were identified by the first 2 listed International Classification of Diseases, Ninth Revision discharge codes; those with ICU admission and/or receiving mechanical ventilation were defined as severe LRTI. Underlying conditions were determined from out- and inpatient discharge codes in the preceding year. We report insurance specific and combined rates that used both commercial and Medicaid rates and adjusted for age and insurance status.

RESULTS:

During 2007–2011, we identified 16 797 and 12 053 severe LRTI hospitalizations among commercial and Medicaid enrollees, respectively. The rates of severe LRTI hospitalizations per 100 000 person-years were highest in children aged <1 year (commercial: 244; Medicaid: 372, respectively), and decreased with age. Among commercial enrollees, ≥1 condition increased the risk for severe LRTI (1 condition: adjusted relative risk, 2.68; 95% confidence interval, 2.58–2.78; 3 conditions: adjusted relative risk, 4.85; 95% confidence interval, 4.65–5.07) compared with children with no medical conditions. Using commercial/Medicaid combined rates, an estimated 31 289 hospitalizations for severe LRTI occurred each year in children in the United States.

CONCLUSIONS:

Among children, the burden of hospitalization for severe LRTI is greatest among children aged <1 year. Children with underlying medical conditions are at greatest risk for severe LRTI hospitalization.

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