Children with Depressed Parent Use Pricier Health Care

Interventions should improve detection and treatment in this high-risk group

TUESDAY, April 3 (HealthDay News) -- Children of depressed parents tend to use more emergency and specialty health care services but less preventive services than other children, according to a report in the April issue of Pediatrics.

Marion R. Sills, M.D., of the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, and colleagues reviewed the health care use of 24,391 children, aged 17 years and younger, who had at least one depressed parent, and another 45,274 age-matched controls without a depressed parent.

Children with a depressed parent were more likely to use emergency department and specialty health care services, and less likely to use preventive services such as well-child-care visits, than their age-matched controls. Specialty visits for mental health, orthopedics and optometry were highest in the older age groups.

"The costlier patterns of health care use that are associated with parental depression raise important issues both for pediatric health care providers and for health care policy-makers," the authors write. "Our findings suggest that interventions that are directed at improving rates of detection and treatment of parental depression will result in less costly health care use patterns for children of depressed parents."

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