Children’s hospital visits HALVED during pandemic – prompting fears of a future health crisis
Nearly half as many children were seen in hospitals last year as before the pandemic, stunning statistics revealed.
Official surveys of 8,400 households showed the nosedive in admissions over the three years prior to 2021 for conditions like respiratory diseases and diabetes.
Experts warn that this is not because less children are getting sick, but instead a sign that fewer are receiving adequate care.
Some hypothesize it is because some steered clear of hospitals during the pandemic for fear of catching the virus in situations they would have went otherwise.
There are also suggestions a drop in common illnesses like the annual flu thanks to lockdowns and mask orders may be behind the downturn.
The above graph shows the percentage of parents in the survey who said their child had two or more hospital visits broken down by year. It reveals that the number has nearly halved
This figure shows the proportion of under-18s getting a doctor visit for any reason broken down by year. It also reveals a downward trend
The data is from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDCs) National Health Interview Survey.
It is based on telephone interviews with thousands of households across America on factors including hospital admissions and doctors visits.
Data showed that in 2019 about 6.7 per cent of children had at least two visits to emergency departments every year.
But by 2021 — the second year of the pandemic — this had fallen to 3.6 per cent.
Several papers have previously also pointed out this sudden drop.
A study published in journal JAMA Network Open last year noted falls in hospitalizations for common conditions including asthma, bronchiolitis, diabetic problems and trauma compared to the previous decade.
The authors suggested it may have been down to fewer respiratory diseases spreading due to social isolation.
But they admitted it could also be down to fewer hospital visits.
‘Taken together, these findings are worrisome,’ they said, ‘in that unmet healthcare needs may be accumulating in the pediatric population as a result of decreased healthcare interactions.’
The survey also found that millions fewer children are now getting a doctors visit every year than before the pandemic.
In 2020, about 95.6 per cent visited their doctor at least once for any reason. Two years later this had fallen to 91 per cent of the total.
There was also an uptick in the numbers seeking special education or early intervention services.
In 2019, 7.8 per cent of those surveyed said their child was receiving the care.
In 2021 the figure was as high as 8.5 per cent.
The record was in 2020 when 10 per cent of children — or one-in-ten — were getting the extra support.
Babies, toddlers and children are some of the hardest hit by lockdown measures a growing body of evidence reveals.
A study published Tuesday found that youngsters born during the pandemic were less likely to have said their first words by their first birthday compared to babies born pre-Covid.
They were also less likely to be able to wave ‘bye’ or point at objects, researchers in Ireland found.
The team say face masks limited children’s ability to read facial expressions or see people’s mouths move — a crucial part of learning to speak.
Bans on visiting grandparents and relatives were also blamed for depriving them of vital socializing time.
The above graph shows the likelihood of a particular behavior in pandemic babies compared to non-pandemic babies by their first birthday. Pincer refers to using the thumb and index figure together. Pandemic babies were more likely to crawl, but less likely to be talking, pointing or waving goodbye
It is just the latest piece of evidence to highlight the devastating toll of pandemic restrictions on the health of America’s youth.
More than 3.6million babies were born in America over the first year of the Covid pandemic alone.
Evidence has already emerged suggesting that they suffered weakened immune systems due to the isolation, putting them at greater risk of nasty colds.
Writing in the release, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland said: ‘Lockdown measures may have reduced the repertoire of language heard and the sight of unmasked faces speaking to [infants].
‘It may also have curtailed opportunities to encounter new items of interest, which might prompt pointing, and the frequency of social contacts to enable them to learn to wave bye-bye.
‘[But] they were still more likely to be crawling… which might be because they were more likely to have spent more time at home on the ground rather than out of the home in cars and strollers.’