Study finds possible link between missed checkups, hospitalization in kids
Seattle – Young children who miss regular doctor checkups may be at a higher risk of hospitalizations due to illness, according to a new study from the University of Washington.
Researchers tracked 20,065 children enrolled at Group Health Cooperative from 1999 to 2006. From birth until age three-and-a-half, the children were advised to have nine well-child visits, which consist of preventive care such as immunizations and allow doctors to identify health issues early. Seventy-six percent went to at least six of the appointments.
Children who missed more than half the checkups were 1.4 to 2 times more likely to be hospitalized for conditions such as asthma or pneumonia than those who attended most of the appointments, according to a university press release. The risk was even higher among children with chronic conditions.
However, researchers said the study does not prove missing checkups will result in more hospitalizations, only that an association exists between the two. Also, findings may not apply universally because the children were in an integrated health system and from families with high levels of income and education.
The study was published May 24 in the American Journal of Managed Care.