CDC Releases Reports on Child and Adolescent Health During COVID-19 Pandemic

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released two new reports in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) that provide important insights on the health and wellbeing of children and adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first report assessed pediatric emergency department visits, finding that overall pediatric emergency department visits decreased in 2020, 2021, and January 2022 compared to visits in 2019. COVID-19-related emergency department visits increased across all pandemic years and among pediatric age groups. There were additionally increases in the weekly number and proportion of emergency department visits for certain types of injuries, some chronic diseases, and visits related to behavioral health concerns. Factors affecting caregivers during the pandemic, including unavailable or unpredictable childcare, illness, financial hardship, and mental health concerns, were found to possible increase a child’s vulnerability.

The second report examined changes in pediatric emergency department visits for mental health conditions and found that adolescent girls (12-17 years old) accounted for the largest increases in the number and proportion of emergency department visits for mental health conditions in 2020, 2021, and in January 2022 compared to 2019. Weekly visits for eating and tic disorders increased for females, particularly adolescent females, over the same period. According to the CDC, the highly complex nature of individual experiences makes it difficult to identify a single reason for changes in mental health conditions during the pandemic.

Additional information on the recent reports is available here.