TUESDAY, Feb. 22, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Compared with 2019, pediatric emergency department visits decreased during 2020, 2021, and January 2022, although increases were seen for visits related to behavioral concerns, according to research published in the Feb. 18 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Lakshmi Radhakrishnan, M.P.H., from the CDC in Atlanta, and colleagues examined changes in U.S. pediatric emergency department visits during 2019 through January 2022 among all children and adolescents aged 0 to 17 years.

The researchers found that pediatric emergency department visits decreased by 51, 22, and 23 percent during 2020, 2021, and January 2022, respectively, compared with 2019. Visits for non-COVID-19 respiratory illnesses mainly decreased, but there was an increase in the proportion of visits for some respiratory conditions during January 2022 versus 2019. For certain types of injuries (e.g., drug poisonings, self-harm, and firearm injuries) and for some chronic diseases, the weekly number and proportion of emergency department visits increased, with variation according to pandemic year and age group. Across pandemic years, visits related to behavioral concerns increased, especially among older children and adolescents.

“Health care systems should be aware of indirect effects of delayed medical care and maintain vigilance for signs of exacerbated emotional distress and behavioral health concerns, especially among older children and adolescents,” the authors write.

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