HealthDay News — From 2016 to 2020, increases were seen in anxiety and depression among children, while decreases were observed in parent or caregiver mental health and coping with parenting demands, according to a study published online March 14 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Lydie A. Lebrun-Harris, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Rockville, Maryland, and colleagues examined annual data from the National Survey of Children’s Health (2016 to 2020) to examine recent trends in children’s health-related measures. Data were included for 174,551 children from birth to age 17 years.

The researchers observed increases in anxiety and depression between 2016 and 2020 (+29 and +27 percent, respectively). Decreases were seen in daily physical activity (−18 percent), parent or caregiver mental health (−5 percent), and coping with parenting demands (−11 percent). From 2019 to 2020, increases were seen in behavior or conduct problems (+21 percent) and child care disruptions affecting parental employment (+34 percent), and reductions were observed in preventive medical visits (−9 percent).


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“Study findings point to several areas of concern, including troubling trends that were evident before the pandemic and new challenges that arose in 2020,” the authors write. “This study adds to the growing literature pointing to an exacerbation of challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, highlighting the urgent need to ensure children’s access to timely health care services, promote healthy behaviors, and support parents to strengthen family well-being.”

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