Temperature in summer and children's hospitalizations in two Mediterranean cities

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Abstract

Background and objective

Children are potentially vulnerable to hot ambient temperature. However, the evidence on heat-related children's morbidity is still scarce. Our aim was to examine the association between temperatures in summer (May to September) and children's hospitalizations in two Mediterranean cities, Rome and Valencia, during the period 2001–2010.

Methods

Quasi-Poisson generalised additive models and distributed lag non-linear models were combined to study the relationship between daily mean temperature and hospital admissions for all natural, respiratory and gastrointestinal diseases in children under 15 years of age. Associations were summarised as the percentage of change (Ch%) in admissions at 50th, 75th, 90th, 95th and 98th percentiles of temperature in summer compared to 1.) the 50th percentile in the whole year (50th(y)) and 2.) the preceding percentile in the previous series. Cumulated risks were obtained for groups of lags showing a similar pattern: 0–1, 2–7, 8–14 and 15–21 days.

Results

Almost whatever increase of temperature from 50th(y) was significantly associated with an increase of paediatric hospitalizations by all natural diseases at short term (lag 0–1), while small increases at high temperatures only had a delayed effect on this outcome. The same pattern was observed in Rome for respiratory admissions, while in Valencia only a delayed association (days 8–14) was observed. The increase of temperature from 50th to 75th percentiles was associated at short time to an increase of gastrointestinal admissions in both cities.

Conclusion

Children's hospitalizations rose with heat in Rome and Valencia. Patterns of delays and critical windows of exposure mainly varied according the outcome considered.

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