Children from single-parent homes admitted to the hospital for asthma or wheezing are 50 percent more likely to return to the hospital within a year than children from two-parent homes, according to a Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center study.

“Financial strain” and competing priorities at home may contribute to the greater number of hospital readmissions and emergency visits, according to Terri Moncrief, MD, a physician in the division of Allergy and Immunology at Cincinnati Children’s and lead author of the study.

Moncrief presented her findings in November at the annual meeting of the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI) in Boston.

“Parents play an important role in controlling their children’s asthma,” says Moncrief. “It takes time, energy and resources to follow their physicians’ treatment plans and adhere to medication regimens. It is essential to understand these constraints and identify innovative interventions to help parents better manage their children’s symptoms and keep asthma under control.”

Uncontrolled asthma accounts for about 500,000 hospitalizations, 1.8 million emergency visits and 10.5 million doctor office visits each year, according to the ACAAI.

Moncrief and her colleagues studied 601 children and adolescents admitted to Cincinnati Children’s for asthma or wheezing. They analyzed four measures of strain:

  • Financial, defined as living in homes with annual incomes under $60,000.
  • Psychological, defined as a high score on a validated mental health screen.
  • Time, defined as a higher ratio of children to adults in the home.
  • Mobility, defined as a child being routinely cared for outside the home.

Time and mobility strain were associated with a higher rate of readmission and emergency visits.