1. At a children’s hospital in Massachusetts, there was a decline in overall hospitalizations and hospitalizations due to viral-associated conditions since the initiation of social distancing measures.
2. During the same time period, there was no significant change in hospitalizations for conditions not associated with viral infections
Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)
Study Rundown: Throughout the world, social distancing guidelines have been implemented to combat the spread of COVID-19. In this study, researchers examined whether widespread initiation of social distancing measures had an impact on pediatric hospitalizations at a single center in Massachusetts during a 5 week period (March-April 2020). The median number of weekly hospitalizations decreased compared to the same time period during the previous 4 years. Hospitalizations due to specific viral-associated conditions (asthma, bronchiolitis, and pneumonia) also decreased. Conversely, there was no change in number of hospitalizations due to specific non-viral associated conditions (cellulitis, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and urinary tract infection). This study is limited by its single-center design and small number of overall hospitalizations during the study period. Overall, these findings suggest that social distancing measures may help reduce pediatric hospitalizations this coming winter, when there is expected to be an increase in cases of COVID-19.
In-Depth [retrospective cohort]: This study was a retrospective chart review conducted at Boston Children’s Hospital. Admission data from a 5-week period in March and April 2020 were compared to the same time period in 2016 through 2019. In the 2020 period (COVID-19 cohort), there were only 339 hospitalizations compared to an average of 823 hospitalizations per year in the previous 4 years (pre-COVID-19 cohort). Additionally, the median overall hospitalizations per week in the COVID-19 cohort was 64 per week, compared to 166 per week in the pre-COVID-19 cohort (P < 0.001). The median rate of weekly hospitalizations due to three viral-associated conditions (bronchiolitis, asthma, and pneumonia) and three non-viral conditions (cellulitis, GERD, and UTI) were compared between the two cohorts. Viral-associated diseases had fewer median hospitalizations per week in the COVID-19 cohort compared to the pre-COVID cohort; asthma (3 vs 8.5; P = 0.014), bronchiolitis (1 vs 7; P = 0.08) and pneumonia (2 vs 6.5; P = 0.064). There was no statistically significant difference in hospitalizations due to the non-viral conditions between the COVID-19 cohort and pre-COVID-19 cohort.
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