High unemployment rates linked to jump in pediatric hospitalizations

Increasing unemployment rates triggered by an economic recession are linked to a rise in hospitalizations involving children, a study published in Health Affairs found. 

Researchers analyzed county-level unemployment and pediatric hospitalization data from 14 states every three years between 2002 and 2014.

Even after researchers adjusted for state-specific unemployment effects, researchers found increased unemployment was linked to more pediatric hospitalizations for four health conditions. A 1 percent increase in unemployment was linked to a:

  • 5 percent increase in hospitalizations linked to substance abuse
  • 4 percent increase in hospitalizations linked to diabetes 
  • 2 percent increase in hospitalizations involving children with medical complexity
  • 2 percent increase in hospitalizations linked to poisoning and burns

Overall, the average all-cause hospitalization rate among children jumped 2 percent for every 1 percent increase in unemployment. 

"Further research is needed to examine potential federal, state and local policies that may mitigate the influence of unemployment on child health and pediatric hospitalizations," researchers said.

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