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Unemployment Linked to Increases in Pediatric Hospitalizations

Hospitalizations increased for four economy-sensitive conditions, including substance abuse, diabetes

a child girl patient

WEDNESDAY, Oct. 7, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Increased unemployment is associated with increases in pediatric hospitalizations for four potentially economy-sensitive conditions, according to a report published in the October issue of Health Affairs.

Jeffrey D. Colvin, M.D., from Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri, and colleagues examined associations between county-level unemployment and pediatric hospitalizations in 14 states every third year from 2002 to 2014.

The researchers found that for four potentially economy-sensitive conditions, increased unemployment was associated with increased pediatric hospitalizations. For example, a 1 percent increase in unemployment was associated with increases of 5, 4, 2, and 2 percent in hospitalizations for substance abuse, diabetes mellitus, children with medical complexity, and poisoning and burns, after adjustment for state-specific effects of unemployment across all counties and years. For every 1 percent increase in unemployment, mean pediatric all-cause hospitalizations increased by 2 percent (54,177 excess hospitalizations in 2011 versus 2005). Despite the increased severity of these conditions during recessions, hospitalizations for mental health were not associated with unemployment.

"Further research is needed into the programs and policies that may mitigate worsening health for these patient populations during economic downturn," the authors write.

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