UC Davis Study Examines Causes of California’s High Pediatric Asthma Rates and Proposes Solutions

Low flu vaccination rates, poor medication compliance, and limited access to primary care providers have contributed to the high pediatric asthma rates in California, say University of California (UC) Davis pediatricians Dr. Ulfat Shaikh and Dr. Robert Byrd, who have published an extensive study describing the challenges faced by children with asthma in California. Analyzing data from the 2011-2012 California Health Interview Survey, the study details several issues affecting asthma care and offers a number of public policy strategies that could help remedy these shortcomings. The research was published this week in the journal Population Health Management. "Asthma is one of the most common chronic pediatric conditions in the U.S. and a major reason for emergency department visits and hospitalizations in children," said Dr. Shaikh, Clinical Quality Officer at the California Department of Health Care Services and Director of Healthcare Quality at the UC Davis School of Medicine. "Emergency department visits for chronic conditions such as asthma are frequently the bellwether of sub-optimal primary care and community-based support. However, by creating better support structures around these children, we can have a significant impact on their health and quality of life." To understand the status of asthma in California, the researchers mined data from the most recent California Health Interview Survey, which includes 44,000 households from every county in California. Nearly 10 percent of the state's children, close to 500,000 children, suffer from asthma. The care these children receive can vary widely, even though more than 96 percent have a primary care provider. Most concerning is that their flu vaccination rates are not much different from those for the general pediatric population.
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