Children's vaccinations and development checks prevent hospital admissions in childhood

November 05, 2018

Children who receive nursery vaccinations and development checks are less likely to be admitted to hospital during childhood years.

This is the finding of the largest ever analysis examining how infant vaccinations and NHS development checks in primary care are linked to children's risk of emergency hospital admissions.

The study, by researchers from Imperial College London, tracked 319,730 children in England from birth for 13 years from 2000 to 2013.

The results, published in the journal BMC Medicine, suggest up to 13,500 children a year in England may be missing out on vaccines, and 83,000 may be missing development checks.

The researchers, from Imperial's School of Public Health, revealed infants who did not receive their vaccinations were twice as likely to be have an emergency hospital admission than children who received their vaccinations.

Young children normally have a one in four risk of being admitted to hospital in their first year of life - the research team revealed that for infants who do not receive their vaccinations, this risk increases to one in two.

The study, funded by the National Institute of Health Research, also found preschool children who did not complete their vaccinations were six times as likely to be admitted to hospital with a vaccine-preventable infectious illness such as measles.

Infants who missed out on health and development checks, in which general practitioners (GPs) or health visitors assess healthy mental and physical development - were over four and a half times as likely to end up in hospital.

The study also revealed that children whose vaccinations were delayed also had a higher risk of an emergency hospital admission in their childhood years.

Professor Sonia Saxena, lead author of the research from Imperial's School of Public Health, said: "Despite the wealth of evidence for vaccination in driving down serious illness and preventable deaths in children, the benefit of vaccines is still disputed in some sectors of society. This study shows getting your child vaccinated safeguards their future health against the risk of preventable hospital admission. And it prevents not just against infectious illness, but against conditions that can get worse when children are exposed to infection"

Professor Saxena, who established the Child Health Unit at Imperial, added: "This research also demonstrates how having a systematic preventive programme in the early years of life can protect the health of the population in later life, as well as reducing health costs from hospital admissions. It is a success marker for the NHS, and should encourage other nations to invest in universal health coverage. This would help achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goal 3 - providing access to health care and vaccines for all by 2030."

Children in the UK receive vaccinations between the ages of 8 weeks and 13 years old, protecting them against a range of illnesses including meningitis, measles and whooping cough.

Children are also invited for NHS health and development checks in their first few days of life, then at around two months old, one year old and two years old. These checks test for a number of things including any problems with growth, hearing and vision.

The research team, which followed children from a representative sample of 363 GP practices across England, found the most common reason for hospital admissions was an infectious illness, which was responsible for more than a third of admissions overall.

Children who had a chronic condition, such as asthma, diabetes or epilepsy, were at particularly high risk of an emergency hospital admission if they missed out on vaccinations or development checks. For instance, children with asthma had a fivefold risk if they missed checks and vaccinations; for children with epilepsy the risk was elevenfold.

The study revealed 98 per cent of all infants studied were fully vaccinated, and 87 per cent had received developmental checks. Further analysis revealed children who didn't receive vaccinations or developmental checks were more likely to live in deprived areas, have a teenage mother, or be first born.

Dr Elizabeth Cecil, co-author from Imperial's Department of Primary Care and Public Health explained: "The fact that the majority of children received vaccinations and developmental checks is a fantastic achievement for our health system. However, the children who slip through the net are at significant risk of illness, and these risks accrue across childhood."

Co-author Dr Dougal Hargreaves added: "Children's health in the UK lags behind other Western European countries, and emergency hospital admissions for children have been steadily rising over recent years. Ensuring as many children as possible receive vaccinations and development checks may help combat this rise and improve the health of children and young people.'

Imperial College London

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to