Pediatrics. 2022 Aug 1:e2021055291. doi: 10.1542/peds.2021-055291. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVES: To use a nationally representative sample to compare children in grandparent-led versus parent-led households with regard to diagnosed child health conditions, receipt of timely health care, and burden of caregiving responsibilities.
METHODS: We used 4 years of pooled data from the National Survey of Children’s Health, representative of United States children ages 0 to 17 years, and applied bivariate analyses and logistic regressions adjusted for sociodemographic confounders to compare grandparent- and parent-led households on key measures of interest.
RESULTS: Compared with children in parent-led households, those in grandparent-led households had increased physical health conditions (oral health problems: 18.9% vs 13.1%, P = .0006; overweight/obesity: 40.3% vs 29.7%, P = .0002); emotional, mental, and developmental health conditions (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: 16.3% vs 8.0%; behavioral/conduct problems: 13.9% vs 6.1%; depression: 6.6% vs 3.1%; learning disability: 13.9% vs 6.2%, P < .0001 for all); and special health care needs (28.2% vs 17.8%, P < .0001). They also had decreased prevalence of health care utilization (usual source of sick care: 65.7% vs 79.5%, preventive checkups: 64.6% vs 77.1%; preventive dental visits: 73.8% vs 80.6%; specialty care: 78.6% vs 90.2%, P ≤ .0001 for all) and increased prevalence of forgone care (5.9% vs 2.8%, P = .0020). After adjustment, the associations with caregiver type remained statistically significant for all emotional, mental, and developmental conditions listed; special health care needs; usual source of sick care and preventive checkups.
CONCLUSIONS: Grandparent caregivers may benefit from additional support to ensure that grandchildren receive timely health care services.