CLEVELAND — Wellness visits for young children are essential to their growth and development. But, MetroHealth System just reported a massive drop in appointments for children since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The hospital system said childhood preventative visits are down 50%. Nationwide, the rate is even higher. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), pediatric visits have dropped 60%.
"It has been a concern," said Dr. Susan Carlin. Dr. Carlin is a pediatrician with MetroHealth. She said children who miss out on regular doctor visits aren't just missing routine vaccinations.
"There are many things that happen at well child care beyond vaccination," she said.
According to AAP, several issues could arise if appointments are missed or delayed. Some of those issues include:
- Mental health problems in children and teenagers such as depression and anxiety.
- Flare-ups of certain chronic conditions like asthma, allergies and diabetes.
- Lower rates of immunizations to preventable and highly contagious diseases such as Measles and whooping cough.
- Delayed diagnoses of illnesses and developmental problems such as autism.
"The sooner the condition is evaluated and diagnosed and the sooner the child Is able to get services and therapy the better the outcome for the child," Dr. Carlin said.
MetroHealth has implemented new safety measures to keep parents and children safe while inside any of their systems hospitals or clinics.
"We don't want anyone, whether they're an adult or child, to put off important preventive health care or screenings and end up having an advanced condition because they were fearful of coming to the hospital or clinic."
The hospital system is also recommending virtual doctor visits as well.