Future Climate Change May Increase Asthma Attacks in Children

Perry Sheffield, MD, Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine, and her team of researchers have found that climate change may lead to more asthma-related health problems in children.

New York
 – August 30, 2011 /Press Release/  –– 

Mount Sinai School of Medicine researchers have found that climate change may lead to more asthma-related health problems in children, and more emergency room (ER) visits in the next decade.

The data, published in the current issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, found that changing levels of ozone could lead to a 7.3 percent increase in asthma-related emergency room visits by children, ages 0-17.  

The research team, led by Perry Sheffield, MD, Assistant Professor of Preventive Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, used regional and atmospheric chemistry models to reach its calculations. They linked regional climate and air quality information to New York State Department of Health records of pediatric, asthma-related emergency room visits in 14 counties that are part of the New York City metropolitan area. Then they simulated ozone levels for June through August for five consecutive years in the 2020s, and compared them with 1990s levels. The researchers found a median increase of 7.3 percent in ozone-related asthma emergency department visits, with increases ranging from 5.2 percent to 10.2 percent per county.

"Our study shows that these assessment models are an effective way of evaluating the long-term impact of global climate change on a local level," said Dr. Sheffield. "This study is a jumping off point to evaluate other outcomes including cost utilization, doctors’ visits, missed school days, and a general understanding of the overall burden of climate change on children with asthma."

Dr. Sheffield and her team plan to continue using these models to understand the specific impacts of climate change. The authors conclude that better measures to reduce carbon pollution that contributes to global climate change as well as pollution that forms ozone need to be implemented.  

Funding for this study was provided by the National Institutes of Health Research Training Program in Environmental Pediatrics.

About The Mount Sinai Medical Center 

The Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Established in 1968, Mount Sinai School of Medicine is one of the leading medical schools in the United States. The Medical School is noted for innovation in education, biomedical research, clinical care delivery, and local and global community service. It has more than 3,400 faculty in 32 departments and 14 research institutes, and ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and by U.S. News & World Report. 

The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. In 2011, U.S. News & World Report ranked The Mount Sinai Hospital 16th on its elite Honor Roll of the nation’s top hospitals based on reputation, safety, and other patient-care factors. Of the top 20 hospitals in the United States, Mount Sinai is one of 12 integrated academic medical centers whose medical school ranks among the top 20 in NIH funding and U.S. News & World Report and whose hospital is on the U.S. News & World Report Honor Roll. Nearly 60,000 people were treated at Mount Sinai as inpatients last year, and approximately 560,000 outpatient visits took place. 

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