Reducing Childhood Asthma2022-02-01T15:28:39-08:00

Asthma is the most common childhood health condition1

Nearly 1.5 million children in California have asthma and the condition makes it difficult for this group to exercise, play, and attend school.1

There is evidence that children unable to manage their asthma tend to visit emergency departments (ED) at increased rates. Better management of this chronic disease is critical to reducing ED visits and improving the quality of life for children with asthma.

Indicator Progress

In 2016 (baseline year), there were 75.3 childhood asthma-related ED visits per 10,000 residents. The most recent rate available is 63.4 (2019). We hope to reach a target of 28.0 or lower by 2022.

Note: Due to the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10 in October 2015, comparisons cannot be made between 2015 (or earlier) and 2016 (or later). The status for this indicator is pending until an ICD-10 trend can be established.

More Data about Childhood Asthma ED Visits

Childhood Asthma ED Visits



Current Rate




Indicator Highlights

In California, asthma costs are estimated at $11.3 billion per year.2

This includes direct health care costs, work and school days lost, and productivity lost due to premature death.

Charges for asthma hospitalizations alone in 2010 were over $1 billion and the average charge per asthma hospitalization increased by twofold since 1995 ($13,274 vs. $33,749, even after adjusting for inflation).3

Medicare and Medi-Cal cover 65% of asthma hospitalizations and 50% of asthma ED visits in California.3

Although asthma remains at epidemic levels, it can be controlled with environmental measures, self-management strategies, and quality health care services.3

For most people, asthma can be controlled with regular preventative healthcare, a clear asthma action plan, medication, and by avoiding known asthma triggers.4

Environmental factors can worsen asthma symptoms or trigger asthma attacks. Such factors include indoor air quality, workplace conditions, environmental tobacco smoke, outdoor air pollutants, and climate change.2

Data Snapshot: Disparities & Trends

According to the latest LGHC data, children in Fresno County have asthma ED visits at a rate nearly two times higher than the state average.

Blacks have 40% higher asthma prevalence than Whites, four times higher asthma ED visit and hospitalization rates, and two times higher asthma death rates.2

Asthma hospitalization and ED visit rates are higher in Hispanics (all subgroups combined) when compared to Whites, especially among children.2

Adults who report cost barriers to receiving medical care are less likely to have well-controlled asthma than those who do not report cost barriers.2

The rate of asthma ED visits is four times higher for people living in areas with the lowest household incomes compared with the highest.2

Emergency Department Visits Due to Asthma per 10,000 Children and Adolescents, Over Time

Emergency Department Visits Due to Asthma per 10,000 Children and Adolescents, by Demographic Category

Emergency Department Visits Due to Asthma per 10,000 Children and Adolescents, by County


Indicator: Emergency department visits, 0-17 years due to asthma per 10,000

Description: The number of ED visits with asthma as the primary diagnosis, among children age 0-17 in California, expressed as a rate per 10,000 residents. Asthma is highly prevalent among California children. ED visits for asthma can often be avoided with proper asthma management. ED visits are costly to the medical system. Data are obtained from the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD). All non-federal hospitals in California are required to submit ED data to OSHPD on a quarterly basis. These records are estimated to include 98% of all ED visits in California. Limitations include: race/ethnicity data have not been validated; records are visit-based and not person-based; there is a potential for incorrect diagnoses and inconsistent coding.

Data Limitations: The California data are based on the universe of records from all licensed hospitals, as submitted to OSHPD.

Indicator Source: Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD)

Indicator Calculation Methodology: (Number of Asthma-related ED visits / Total county or state population) x 10,000

Data Source: The OSHPD ED Database. Notes: Numerator for rates is ED visits with a principal diagnosis using ICD-9 code 493 or ICD-10 codes beginning with J45 (after October 2015). Counts are based on the number of visits, not the number of unique individuals. Denominator for rates is the estimated number of residents based on CA Department of Finance estimates.

Data Collection Methodology:

Program URL Link:

1. Backman, D., Lee, P., & Paciotti, B. (2013). Health Disparities in the Medi-Cal Population. Retrieved November 17, 2015, from

2. California Department of Public Health, Environmental Health Investigations Branch. (2014, April). Asthma’s Impact on California. Retrieved November 16, 2015, from

3 & 4. Strategic Plan for Asthma in California 2015-2019. (2015, April). Retrieved November 15, 2015, from

5. California Department of Public Health – California Environmental Health Tracking Program . (2010, September 29). Asthma: Prevention and Treatment. Retrieved November 15, 2015, from

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