HealthDay News — From 2012 to 2016 there was an increase in the number of children visiting pediatric emergency departments (PEDs) with mental health-related diagnoses, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Pediatrics, held from Nov. 2 to 6 in Orlando, Florida.

Anna Abrams, M.D., from the Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C., and colleagues conducted a retrospective cross-sectional study using the Pediatric Health Information System database from 2012 to 2016 to describe racial and ethnic differences in trends of mental health-related PED visits.

The researchers found that 242,036 patients received mental health-related diagnoses in PEDs from 2012 to 2016. Non-Hispanic black and non-Hispanic other children had higher rates of mental health diagnoses than non-Hispanic white patients (78.4 and 79.2 versus 51.5 per 100,000; odds ratio, 1.5 for both). Over time, there was an increase in the rates of mental health visits, from 50.4 to 78.5 per 100,000 children in 2012 and 2016, respectively. The rate of increase in mental health-related PED visits was higher among non-Hispanic black versus non-Hispanic white children (β = 11.9 versus 6.6).

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“These children come to our emergency departments in crisis, and across the nation, children’s hospitals need to expand mental health resources to better serve these vulnerable patients,” a coauthor said in a statement.

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