Heat wave exposure and increased heat-related hospitalizations in young children in South Korea: A time-series study

Jongmin Oh, Eunji Kim, Youngrin Kwag, Hyungmi An, Hae Soon Kim, Surabhi Shah, Ji Hyen Lee, Eunhee Ha

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1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Numerous studies have investigated the association between heat wave exposure increased heat-related hospitalizations in the general population. However, little is known about heat-related morbidity in young children who are more vulnerable than the general population. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate the association between hospitalization for heat-related illness in children and heat wave exposure in South Korea. Methods: We used the National Health Insurance Service (NHIS) database, which provides medical records from 2015 to 2019 in South Korea. We defined daily hospitalizations for heat-related illness of children younger than five years during the summer period (June to August). We considered the definition of heat waves considering the absolute temperature and percentile. A total of 12 different heat waves were used. A time-series analysis was used to investigate the association between heat wave exposure and heat-related hospitalization among children younger than five years. We used a two-stage design involving a meta-analysis after modeling by each region. Results: We included 16,879 daily heat-related hospitalizations among children younger than five years. Overall, heat wave exposure within two days was most related for heat-related hospitalizations in young children. The relative risk (RR) due to heat wave exposure within two days (lag2) (12 definitions: 70th to 90th percentile of maximum temperature) ranged from 1.038 (95% confidence interval (CI): 0.971, 1.110) to 1.083 (95% CI: 1.036, 1.133). We found that boys were more vulnerable to heat exposure than girls. In addition, we found that urban areas were more vulnerable to heat exposure than rural areas. Conclusions: In our study, heat wave exposure during summer was found to be associated with an increased risk of hospitalization for heat-related illness among children younger than five years. Our findings suggest the need for summer heat wave management and prevention for children.

Original languageEnglish
Article number117561
JournalEnvironmental Research
Volume241
DOIs
StatePublished - 15 Jan 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023

Keywords

  • Children
  • Heat illness
  • Heat waves
  • Hospitalization
  • Korea
  • Time series

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