New research suggests asthma-associated GP consultations almost triple during the ‘back-to-school’ (BTS) period.
A study published in the BMJ’s Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health used national syndromic surveillance systems in England to gather asthma morbidity data from emergency department attendances and GP consultations between April 2012 and December 2016.
The data showed BTS asthma among children younger than 15 years was most pronounced at the start of the school year in September. This effect was not present among those aged 15 years and above.
After controlling for sex and study year, the adjusted daily rate of childhood GP in-hours asthma consultations was 2.5-3 times higher in the BTS excess period, with a significantly higher effect among children aged 0-4 years. A significant effect of smaller magnitude was observed for GP out-of-hours consultations for both 0-4 and 5-14 years age groups.
A distinct age-specific pattern of sex differences in asthma presentations was observed, with a higher burden among males in children and among females aged over 15 years.
Across all years in the study, the age-specific and sex-specific median delay between the start of the school year and BTS excess period ranged from five to 11 days. In some years, among children aged 0-4 years, the BTS excess period began before the start of the school year.