Asthma hospitalisation rates fall

ASTHMA hospitalisation rates have dropped by one-third in children and almost halved in adults over the past decade, national figures reveal.

An Australian Institute of Health and Welfare report shows there were just 495 asthma hospital admissions per 100,000 children in 2010/11, 33% lower than in 1998/99.

In adults, the rate was 92 per 100,000 people - a 45% decrease compared to 1998/99.

Professor Guy Marks, head of respiratory and environmental epidemiology at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, said the decline in asthma hospitalisation rates was "substantial" and had occurred mainly in the late 1990s and early 2000s.

"In children, rates have been very stable since 2002," he said.

The reasons for the drop were still unclear, but "one plausible explanation is that asthma has been managed more appropriately since that time", he said.

A decline in the number of people with asthma was also a possibility, with some evidence indicating asthma prevalence in children had declined in the early 2000s, Professor Marks said.

Asthma cycles of care could be contributing to improving asthma control in general practice but it was not clear whether they had an effect on hospitalisation rates, he said.

Overall, there were 37,830 hospitalisations for asthma in 2010/11, the AIHW report showed.

More than half were for children younger than 15, with the highest rates among children under four.

The average length of stay was 2.9 days for adults and 1.5 days for children.