TUESDAY, March 28, 2023 (HealthDay News) — The number and proportion of pediatric medical health hospitalizations is increasing, with most mental health hospitalizations in 2019 due to attempted suicide, suicidal ideation, or self-injury, according to a study published in the March 28 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Mary Arakelyan, M.P.H., from Dartmouth Health Children’s in Lebanon, New Hampshire, and colleagues conducted a retrospective analysis of the 2009, 2012, 2016, and 2019 Kids’ Inpatient Database, including 4,767,840 weighted hospitalizations among children 3 to 17 years of age, to describe national trends in pediatric mental health hospitalizations.

The researchers found that from 2009 to 2019, there was a 25.8 percent increase in the number of pediatric mental health hospitalizations, accounting for a higher proportion of pediatric hospitalizations (19.8 versus 11.5 percent), hospital days (28.7 versus 22.2 percent), and interfacility transfers (49.3 versus 36.9 percent). From 2009 to 2019, there was a significant increase seen in the percentage of mental health hospitalizations with attempted suicide, suicidal ideation, or self-injury diagnosis, from 30.7 to 64.2 percent. Across hospitals, there was significant variation noted in length of stay and interfacility transfer rates. Mental health hospitalizations had significantly longer mean lengths of stay and higher transfer rates compared with non-mental health hospitalizations across all years.

“These findings underscore the growing effect of mental health diagnoses on the well-being of children in the United States,” the authors write.

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