MONDAY, May 23, 2022 (HealthDay News) — During the first pandemic year, there were increases in the proportion of pediatric patients presenting to hospital with suicidal ideation/suicidal attempts, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance use disorders, and obsessive compulsive and related disorders, according to a study published online May 17 in Hospital Pediatrics.

Patricia Ibeziako, M.D., from Boston Children’s Hospital, and colleagues describe psychiatric diagnoses and boarding among pediatric patients presenting to the hospital after the pandemic onset in a retrospective chart review at a large Northeastern U.S. pediatric hospital. Psychiatric diagnoses and boarding were compared during the 12 months before and after the pandemic onset.

The researchers found that during the first pandemic year, there were increases in the proportion of hospital presentations of pediatric patients with suicidal ideation/suicidal attempts, depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance use disorders, and obsessive compulsive and related disorders compared with the previous year. The average length of psychiatric boarding increased more than twofold from 2.1 to 4.6 days; during the first pandemic year, 50.4 percent of patients experienced extended boarding periods of two or more days.

“The increase in suicidal behavior among youth very much predates the pandemic,” Ibeziako said in a statement. “The pandemic did not alter this trend — it simply amplified it.”

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