The number of children visiting the emergency room for asthma treatment in California is increasing, with the statewide rates of ER visits rising by about 18%.

Statewide, the rates of ER visits for asthma symptoms rose by about 18 percent for California children ages 5 to 17 and by 6 percent for children under 5 between 2005 and 2012, according to a Kaiser Health News analysis of the latest available rates by county.

In San Bernardino County, ER visit rates rose by 23 percent for children 5 and older and by 13 percent for children under 5.

In some parts of the state, especially the Central Valley, the increases were far higher. The rate of emergency room visits for children 5 and older more than doubled in rural Madera County and nearly doubled in Merced. In Sacramento County, they rose by 48 percent and in Orange County, by 14 percent.

All told, more than 72,000 California children under 18 visited the ER for asthma in 2012, more than 5,500 of them from San Bernardino County.

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