Turkish Archives of Pediatrics
Original Article

Significant Reduction in Pediatric, Population-Based Hospital Admissions Due To COVID-19 in Malta

1.

Department of Paediatrics, Mater Dei Hospital, L-Imsida, Malta

2.

Department of Medicine, Mater Dei Hospital, L-Imsida, Malta

Turk Arch Pediatr 2022; 57: 87-92
DOI: 10.5152/TurkArchPediatr.2022.21145
Read: 259 Downloads: 132 Published: 01 January 2022

Objective: This population-based, retrospective study aimed to determine whether there was a drop in pediatric admissions during the first year of COVID-19 in Malta, as reported in other centers worldwide, as well as to determine any differences in patient characteristics when compared to the previous year.

Materials and Methods: All unplanned pediatric medical admissions to Mater Dei Hospital from March 1, 2020 (a few days before the first case of COVID-19 in Malta) till February 28, 2021 (study period) and the corresponding period in 2019/20 (control period) and characteristics of patients admitted during the first 10 weeks (first wave of COVID-19) were analyzed.

Results: Pediatric admissions dropped by 57.7% during the first year of COVID-19 (1601 vs. 3789 in 2019). During the first wave of COVID-19, a higher percentage of neonates were admitted in 2020 when compared to all other ages. There was a lower prevalence of respiratory illnesses during the first wave of COVID-19 (31.6% vs. 47.5% in 2019, P < .001), with a higher prevalence of cases related to child abuse or adverse socio-economic circumstances (2020, 9 [3.4%] vs 1 [0.1%] in 2019, P < .001). Following school closures, a drop in communicable disease admissions was recorded (68 [42.2%] vs. 421 [70.3%] in 2019, P < .001). A negative correlation between daily pediatric admissions and active COVID-19 cases in Malta was noted (r (68) = −0.33, P = .005).

Conclusion: The drop in admissions likely represents fear of contracting COVID-19 in hospital environments, together with a decline in communicable diseases due to school closures. Guardians’ concerns must be alleviated as best as possible by effective public health measures. 

Cite this article as: Degiorgio S, Grech N, Marie Dimech Y, Xuereb J, Grech V. Significant reduction in pediatric, population-based hospital admissions due to COVID-19 in Malta. Turk Arch Pediatr. 2022;57(1):87-92.

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