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September 1974

Causes of Death During Acute Asthma in Children

Author Affiliations

From the departments of pediatrics (Drs. Buranakul, Sly, and Washington) and pathology (Dr. Mancuso), Louisiana State University Medical School at New Orleans; Department of Pediatrics (Dr. Hilman), Louisiana State University Medical Center School of Medicine at Shreveport (La); Tulane University School of Medicine (Dr. Washington); and Charity Hospital of Louisiana, New Orleans (Dr. Washington).

Am J Dis Child. 1974;128(3):343-350. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1974.02110280073009

The medical records of children who had died of asthma, asthmatic bronchitis, and bronchiolitis at Charity Hospital of Louisiana at New Orleans during 1943 through 1973, excluding 1945 through 1949, were examined. Medical records suggested that death had occurred during acute asthmatic attacks in eight patients, and this was confirmed by a review of their postmortem examinations and histologic slide findings.

Factors in these eight deaths included infection in four, sedation in three, aminophylline toxicity in one, epinephrine toxicity in one, and failure to initiate appropriate therapy early in five.

Death reportedly occurred very suddenly in one child who died before reaching the hospital, and three others died within 3½ hours after reaching the hospital.

Death from asthma in children is usually preventable by early initiation of appropriate therapy.