THURSDAY, Sept. 24, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- There has been a steep drop in routine medical care for low-income children in the United States during the pandemic, which could cause long-term problems, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services says.
For example: Early childhood vaccinations fell by 22 percent, or 1.7 million fewer immunizations among children up to age 2 years; screenings for cognitive or developmental problems decreased by 44 percent; dentist visits plummeted by 69 percent; and there were 6.9 million fewer mental health visits, the Associated Press reported.
"The absence of these vital health care services may have lifelong consequences for these vulnerable children, and I call on states, pediatric providers, families, and schools to ensure children catch up," CMS Administrator Seema Verma said in a statement.
More recent data show an increase in childhood immunizations since May, but a huge jump is needed to make up for missed vaccinations since the spring, CMS said. "The potential for increased outbreaks of infectious disease due to decreased vaccinations is real, and can result in decreased school attendance, decreased learning, and increased childhood illness in general," according to the agency, the AP reported.