Study shows many U.S. children missed routine pediatric visits during pandemic

Apr. 27, 2022
Boy and girl from back, looking trough the window.

The COVID-19 pandemic and early efforts to stop the spread led many in the U.S. to delay non-emergency and elective medical care. Evidence suggests that missed care during the pandemic may have contributed to increased mortality in adults from causes other than COVID-19, but there is little research on the prevalence of missed routine pediatric visits among U.S. children.

To investigate, CUNY SPH Assistant Professor Chloe Teasdale and colleagues from the CUNY Institute for Implementation Science in Population Health (ISPH) led a study published this month in Preventive Medicine.

In March 2021, the researchers conducted a cross-sectional online survey of 2,074 U.S. parents of children 12 years and younger to measure the proportion of children who missed pediatric care and vaccinations over the first 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Overall, 41.3% of parents reported that their youngest child missed a routine medical visit due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Missed care was more common among children older than two years and among Hispanic children. A third of parents also reported their child had missed a vaccination.

The data, along with reports from vaccine registries showing decreased vaccination uptake and coverage are very concerning, particularly as the country returns to pre-pandemic activities, including in-person education.

“Delayed or missed pediatric care, including missed vaccinations, could have significant long-term impact on the health of children, their families and communities,” says Teasdale. “Catch-up efforts are needed to ensure continuity of preventive care for all children.”

Teasdale CA, Borrell LN, Shen Y, Kimball S, Zimba R, Kulkarni S, Rane M, Rinke ML, Fleary SA, Nash D. Missed routine pediatric care and vaccinations in US children during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic. Prev Med. 2022 May;158:107025. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2022.107025. Epub 2022 Mar 19. PMID: 35318030; PMCID: PMC8933962.