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The Impact of COVID-19 on Pediatric Healthcare Utilization and Disease Dynamics: An Observational Study From Western Odisha

Cureus. 2022 Jul 19;14(7):e27006. doi: 10.7759/cureus.27006. eCollection 2022 Jul.


Introduction Children were affected by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus during the first and second waves of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19 pandemic. Although the severity was less in children, the fear of contracting SARS-CoV-2 at the hospital might have led to a delayed health-seeking attitude. The objective of the study was tailored around emergency health care utilization affecting outcomes. The study was done to compare the trend concerning the utilization of pediatric healthcare and immunization services, changes in the profile of diseases, and the outcomes between the pre-COVID-19 period and the COVID-19 period in a tertiary care hospital. Methods This retrospective observational study was conducted in a tertiary care hospital in western Odisha. Data were collected retrospectively from different hospital registers (outpatient register, inpatient register, and immunization records) and analyzed between the pre-COVID-19 period (April 2019 to March 2020) and the COVID-19 period (April 2020 to March 2021) with appropriate statistical procedures. Results There was a 60%, 49.8%, 51.1%, and 25.5% reduction in outpatient attendance, indoor pediatric admissions, nutritional rehabilitation centre admissions, and newborn admissions, respectively in COVID-19 period as compared to the pre-COVID-19 period. The pediatric bed occupancy rate was reduced by 54.5%. Unfavourable outcomes (death, left against medical advice, and referral) were significantly high in hospitalized children (24% vs. 18.1%, p < 0.001). The reduction in hospitalization due to common conditions like acute respiratory tract infections, bronchiolitis and asthma, and acute gastroenteritis during COVID-19 was 76.5%, 86.2%, and 39.5%, respectively. A higher percentage of low birth weight and preterm (<34 weeks) babies were admitted to special neonatal care unit (SNCU) during the pandemic (61.8% vs. 58%, p < 0.05; 18.9% vs. 15.8%; p < 0.05 respectively). Conclusion The COVID-19 pandemic and the associated lockdown led to a significant decrease in pediatric and neonatal healthcare utilization. The impact of lower care-seeking and attendance resulting in poor patient-related outcomes (malnutrition, upsurge of vaccine-preventable diseases, disease-specific hospitalization, and mortality) post-pandemic is a real threat.

PMID:36000109 | PMC:PMC9390950 | DOI:10.7759/cureus.27006

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