Asthma Hospitalizations, by Age Group

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Learn More About Asthma

Measures of Asthma on
On, estimates of childhood asthma prevalence are derived from reports of children ages 1-17 who have ever been diagnosed with asthma. Asthma hospitalizations—which reflect the most severe asthmatic episodes—also are provided for children ages 0-17, by age group.
Air Quality
Characteristics of Children with Special Needs
Access to Services for Children with Special Needs
Health Insurance Coverage for Children with Special Health Care Needs
Pupil Support Services
Impacts of Special Health Care Needs on Children and Families
Quality of Care for Children with Special Health Care Needs
School Attendance and Discipline
Health Care
Hospital Use
Why This Topic Is Important
Asthma is one of the most common chronic diseases among children in the U.S. and a leading cause of hospitalizations and absences from school (1, 2). Asthma rates vary by region, demographics, environment, physician diagnostic practices, and access to care. Although identifying the impact of independent risk factors for asthma is difficult, low-income and minority children are at disproportionately high risk for severe symptoms, missed school days, and emergency room visits due to asthma (1, 2, 3).

Asthma sufferers often manage symptoms with medication, trigger avoidance, and regular medical monitoring (1, 2). However, children who face cost barriers to medication or treatment are less likely to have well-controlled asthma than children with access to regular medical care, and may repeatedly be absent from school when their asthma flares up (1, 2, 3).
For more information on childhood asthma, see’s Research & Links section.

Sources for this narrative:

1.  U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. (2013). America's children and the environment (3rd ed.). Retrieved from:

2.  California Environmental Health Tracking Program. (2015). Costs of environmental health conditions in California children. Public Health Institute. Retrieved from:

3.  Milet, M., et al. (2013). Asthma in California: A surveillance report. California Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Investigations Branch. Retrieved from:
How Children Are Faring
In 2015-2016, an estimated 15% of California children ages 1-17 had been diagnosed with asthma at some point in their lives, similar to estimates from previous years. While asthma does not result in hospitalization for most children, there were 8,460 hospitalizations for asthma among children 0-17 statewide in 2017, a rate of 9.2 hospitalizations per 10,000 children. Among counties with data, childhood asthma hospitalization rates ranged from 4.4 per 10,000 (Santa Barbara) to 16 per 10,000 (Fresno). Statewide, rates of asthma hospitalization are higher for children ages 0-4 (16.6 per 10,000 in 2017) than for older children ages 5-17 (6.5 per 10,000 in 2017).
Policy Implications
While asthma can be debilitating, even life-threatening, it usually is a controllable disease. Asthma can be triggered by environmental conditions such as outdoor air pollution, tobacco smoke, and poor indoor air quality, as well as by other causes such as viral infections and exercise (1). State, local, and school policies that reduce asthma triggers and that facilitate effective management and treatment of asthma can have positive effects on asthma rates and other health outcomes.

Policy options that could influence asthma rates, treatment, and health consequences include:
  • Ensuring that all children have adequate, accessible, and affordable health care and insurance coverage for effective prevention and treatment of asthma, which includes coverage for asthma medications and supplies (2)
  • Enforcing laws and regulations that limit air pollution from vehicles, agricultural and industrial practices, and other sources (1, 3)
  • Strengthening school policies that educate students, staff, and parents on asthma care, improve indoor air quality, make it easy for students to manage their asthma at school, and facilitate communication and record sharing among families, schools, and health care providers (1, 4)
  • Promoting community-wide, integrated interventions that decrease the burden of asthma on high-risk populations, including outreach and education, home visiting, and reduction of asthma triggers in homes, schools, child care centers, and workplaces (1, 2)
  • Funding tobacco control efforts, including restricting access to cigarettes, increasing the availability and use of smoking cessation programs, and limiting smoking in multi-unit housing, as smoking and exposure to second-hand smoke harms lung function and can increase asthmatic symptoms (2, 5)
For more policy ideas, see’s Research & Links section or visit California Breathing. Also see the following topics on Hospitalizations and Air Quality.

Sources for this narrative:

1. Milet, M., et al. (2013). Asthma in California: A surveillance report. California Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Investigations Branch. Retrieved from:

2.  California Department of Public Health. (2015). Strategic plan for asthma in California: 2015-2019. Retrieved from: Document Library/SPAC2014_7-28-15APR.pdf

3.  McConnell, R., et al. (2010). Childhood incident asthma and traffic-related air pollution at home and school. Environmental Health Perspectives, 118(7), 1021-1026. Retrieved from:

4.  Wheeler, L., et al. (2010). Working with schools to improve pediatric asthma management. Pediatric Asthma, Allergy, and Immunology, 22(4), 197-207. Retrieved from:

5.  Kit, B. K., et al. (2013). U.S. prevalence and trends in tobacco smoke exposure among children and adolescents with asthma. Pediatrics, 131(3), 407-414. Retrieved from:
Websites with Related Information
Key Reports and Research
County/Regional Reports
More Data Sources For Asthma