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School Absences Common Among Pediatric Critical Care Survivors

Also, work absences common for primary caregivers after critical care hospitalization of child for acute respiratory failure

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 12, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Children and their caregivers often miss school or work after critical care hospitalization for acute respiratory failure, according to a study published online Dec. 23 in JAMA Network Open.

Erin F. Carlton, M.D., from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues examined the rates and duration of school absence among pediatric survivors of hospitalization with acute respiratory failure and work absence among their caregivers. The analysis included 960 children who survived treatment from one of 31 sites from June 6, 2009, to Dec. 2, 2013, and were followed for six months after pediatric intensive care unit discharge.

The researchers found that of the 399 children enrolled in school, 69.9 percent missed school after discharge (median duration of postdischarge absence: 9.1 days among all children enrolled in school and 16.9 days among the 279 children with postdischarge absence). More than half of primary caregivers (52.7 percent) were employed outside the home, and of these, more than half (54.7 percent) missed work (median duration of postdischarge work absence was two days among all employed primary caregivers and eight days among the caregivers who missed work after discharge). The odds of postdischarge school absence and greater duration of absence increased for children 5 years or older versus those 0 to 4 years (odds ratios [ORs] for 5 to 8 years: 3.20 and 2.09, respectively; ORs for 9 to 12 years: 2.49 and 2.32, respectively; ORs for 13 to 18 years: 2.37 and 1.89, respectively) and those with a preexisting comorbidity (ORs, 1.90 and 1.76, respectively).

“The magnitude of school absenteeism suggests that children may be at increased risk for lower educational achievement, economic hardship, and poor health outcomes in adulthood,” the authors write.

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