PEDIATRICS recent issues

Experience of Chest Dysphoria and Masculinizing Chest Surgery in Transmasculine Youth

OBJECTIVES:

Transmasculine individuals, those assigned female sex at birth but who identify as masculine, have high rates of suicidal behavior and often suffer from chest dysphoria (discomfort and distress from unwanted breast development). Growing numbers of transmasculine youth are pursuing definitive treatment with masculinizing chest surgery (MCS), and adult studies reveal marked benefits of MCS, although little is known about the impact of chest dysphoria on transmasculine youth or the optimal timing of MCS. In this study, we aimed to explore youth experiences of chest dysphoria and the impact of MCS.

METHODS:

Transmasculine youth aged 13 to 21 were recruited from a pediatric hospital–based gender clinic. Participants completed a semistructured qualitative interview exploring the experience of chest dysphoria and thoughts about or experiences with MCS. Interview transcripts were coded by 3 investigators employing modified grounded theory, with the median interrater reliability at = 0.92.

RESULTS:

Subjects (N = 30) were a mean age of 17.5 years, and 47% had undergone MCS. Youth reported that chest dysphoria triggered strong negative emotions and suicidal ideation, caused a myriad of functional limitations, and was inadequately relieved by testosterone therapy alone. All post-MCS youth reported near or total resolution of chest dysphoria, lack of regret, and improved quality of life and functioning.

CONCLUSIONS:

We observed consensus that chest dysphoria is a major source of distress and can be functionally disabling to transmasculine youth. MCS performed during adolescence, including before age 18, can alleviate suffering and improve functioning. Additional research is needed to develop patient-reported outcome measures to assess the impact of chest dysphoria and MCS.

An mHealth Intervention for Pregnancy Prevention for LGB Teens: An RCT

BACKGROUND:

Although lesbian, gay, bisexual and other sexual minority (LGB+) girls are more likely than heterosexual girls to be pregnant during adolescence, relevant pregnancy prevention programming is lacking.

METHODS:

A national randomized controlled trial was conducted with 948 14- to 18-year-old cisgender LGB+ girls assigned to either Girl2Girl or an attention-matched control group. Participants were recruited on social media between January 2017 and January 2018 and enrolled over the telephone. Between 5 and 10 text messages were sent daily for 7 weeks. Both experimental arms ended with a 1-week booster delivered 12 weeks subsequently.

RESULTS:

A total of 799 (84%) participants completed the intervention end survey. Participants were, on average, 16.1 years of age (SD: 1.2 years). Forty-three percent were minority race; 24% were Hispanic ethnicity. Fifteen percent lived in a rural area and 29% came from a low-income household. Girl2Girl was associated with significantly higher rates of condom-protected sex (adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.48, P < .001), current use of birth control other than condoms (aOR = 1.60, P = .02), and intentions to use birth control among those not currently on birth control (aOR = 1.93, P = .001). Differences in pregnancy were clinically but not statistically significant (aOR = 0.43, P = .23). Abstinence (aOR = 0.82, P = .34), intentions to be abstinent (aOR = 0.95, P = .77), and intentions to use condoms (aOR = 1.09, P = .59) were similar by study arm.

CONCLUSIONS:

Girl2Girl appears to be associated with increases in pregnancy preventive behaviors for LGB+ girls, at least in the short-term. Comprehensive text messaging–based interventions could be used more widely to promote adolescent sexual health behaviors across the United States.

Severe Acute Neurologic Involvement in Children With Hemolytic-Uremic Syndrome

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

Acute severe neurologic involvement is the most threatening complication in children with hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS). Our primary study objectives were to describe the association between acute neurologic manifestations (ANMs) and in-hospital mortality among children with HUS.

METHODS:

Using the Pediatric Health Information System database, in this retrospective multicenter cohort study, we identified the first HUS-related inpatient visit among children ≤18 years (years 2004–2018). Frequency of selected ANMs and combinations of ANMs, as well as the rate of mortality, was calculated. Multivariate logistic regression was used to identify the association of ANMs and the risk of in-hospital mortality.

RESULTS:

Among 3915 patients included in the analysis, an ANM was noted in 10.4% (n = 409) patients. Encephalopathy was the most common ANM (n = 245). Mortality was significantly higher among patients with an ANM compared with patients without an ANM (13.9% vs 1.8%; P < .001). Individuals with any ANM had increased odds of mortality (odds ratio [OR]: 2.25; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.29–3.93; P = .004), with greater risk (OR: 2.60; 95% CI: 1.34–5.06; P = .005) among patients with ≥2 manifestations. Brain hemorrhage (OR: 3.09; 95% CI: 1.40–6.82; P = .005), brain infarction (OR: 2.64; 95% CI: 1.10–6.34; P = .03), anoxic brain injury (OR: 3.92; 95% CI: 1.49–10.31; P = .006), and brain edema (OR: 4.81; 95% CI: 1.82–12.71; P = .002) were independently associated with mortality.

CONCLUSIONS:

In this study, the largest systematic assessment of ANMs among children with HUS to date, we identify differences in in-hospital mortality based on the type of ANM, with increased risk observed for patients with multiple ANMs.

Umbilical Cord Management at Term and Late Preterm Birth: A Meta-analysis

CONTEXT:

The International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation prioritized scientific review of umbilical cord management at term and late preterm birth.

OBJECTIVE:

To assess effects of umbilical cord management strategies (clamping timing and cord milking) in infants ≥34 weeks’ gestational age.

DATA SOURCES:

Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Medline, PubMed, Embase, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, and trial registries searched July 2019.

STUDY SELECTION:

Two authors independently assessed eligibility of randomized controlled trials.

DATA EXTRACTION:

Two authors independently extracted data and assessed evidence certainty (Grading of Recommendations Assessment, Development and Evaluations).

RESULTS:

We identified 46 studies (9159 women and their infants) investigating 7 comparisons. Compared with early cord clamping (ECC) <30 seconds, delayed cord clamping (DCC) ≥30 seconds (33 studies), intact-cord milking (1 study), and cut-cord milking (2 studies) probably improve hematologic measures but may not affect survival without neurodisability, anemia in early infancy, or maternal postpartum hemorrhage. No differences in major neonatal morbidities are seen in studies comparing methods of optimizing placental transfusion (DCC versus cut-cord milking [3 studies], longer delays in clamping [7 studies], or physiologic parameters [3 studies]). Strategies that promote increased placental transfusion may be associated with greater phototherapy use. Evidence for all outcomes was low or very low certainty.

LIMITATIONS:

Incompleteness and low certainty of findings limit applicability.

CONCLUSIONS:

Compared with ECC, DCC or cord milking increases hemoglobin and hematocrit immediately after birth in infants ≥34 weeks’ gestational age. The uncertain effects of DCC and cord milking compared with ECC on major morbidities limit usefulness of available evidence for policy and practice.

Applications of Artificial Intelligence for Retinopathy of Prematurity Screening

OBJECTIVES:

Childhood blindness from retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is increasing as a result of improvements in neonatal care worldwide. We evaluate the effectiveness of artificial intelligence (AI)–based screening in an Indian ROP telemedicine program and whether differences in ROP severity between neonatal care units (NCUs) identified by using AI are related to differences in oxygen-titrating capability.

METHODS:

External validation study of an existing AI-based quantitative severity scale for ROP on a data set of images from the Retinopathy of Prematurity Eradication Save Our Sight ROP telemedicine program in India. All images were assigned an ROP severity score (1–9) by using the Imaging and Informatics in Retinopathy of Prematurity Deep Learning system. We calculated the area under the receiver operating characteristic curve and sensitivity and specificity for treatment-requiring retinopathy of prematurity. Using multivariable linear regression, we evaluated the mean and median ROP severity in each NCU as a function of mean birth weight, gestational age, and the presence of oxygen blenders and pulse oxygenation monitors.

RESULTS:

The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for detection of treatment-requiring retinopathy of prematurity was 0.98, with 100% sensitivity and 78% specificity. We found higher median (interquartile range) ROP severity in NCUs without oxygen blenders and pulse oxygenation monitors, most apparent in bigger infants (>1500 g and 31 weeks’ gestation: 2.7 [2.5–3.0] vs 3.1 [2.4–3.8]; P = .007, with adjustment for birth weight and gestational age).

CONCLUSIONS:

Integration of AI into ROP screening programs may lead to improved access to care for secondary prevention of ROP and may facilitate assessment of disease epidemiology and NCU resources.

Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Childhood and Left Ventricular Diastolic Function in Adulthood

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

Cardiovascular risk factors, such as obesity, blood pressure, and physical inactivity, have been identified as modifiable determinants of left ventricular (LV) diastolic function in adulthood. However, the links between childhood cardiovascular risk factor burden and adulthood LV diastolic function are unknown. To address this lack of knowledge, we aimed to identify childhood risk factors associated with LV diastolic function in the participants of the Cardiovascular Risk in Young Finns Study.

METHODS:

Study participants (N = 1871; 45.9% men; aged 34–49 years) were examined repeatedly between the years 1980 and 2011. We determined the cumulative risk exposure in childhood (age 6–18 years) as the area under the curve for systolic blood pressure, adiposity (defined by using skinfold and waist circumference measurements), physical activity, serum insulin, triglycerides, total cholesterol, and high- and low-density lipoprotein cholesterols. Adulthood LV diastolic function was defined by using E/é ratio.

RESULTS:

Elevated systolic blood pressure and increased adiposity in childhood were associated with worse adulthood LV diastolic function, whereas higher physical activity level in childhood was associated with better adulthood LV diastolic function (P < .001 for all). The associations of childhood adiposity and physical activity with adulthood LV diastolic function remained significant (both P < .05) but were diluted when the analyses were adjusted for adulthood systolic blood pressure, adiposity, and physical activity. The association between childhood systolic blood pressure and adult LV diastolic function was diluted to nonsignificant (P = .56).

CONCLUSIONS:

Adiposity status and the level of physical activity in childhood are independently associated with LV diastolic function in adulthood.

Impact of Acute and Chronic Hypoxia-Ischemia on the Transitional Circulation

The transition from intrauterine life to extrauterine existence encompasses significant cardiorespiratory adaptations. These include rapid lung aeration and increase in pulmonary blood flow (PBF). Perinatal asphyxia and fetal growth restriction can severely hamper this transition. Hypoxia is the common denominator in these 2 disease states, with the former characterized by acute insult and the latter by utero-placental insufficiency and a chronic hypoxemic state. Both may manifest as hemodynamic instability. In this review, we emphasize the role of physiologic-based cord clamping in supplementing PBF during transition. The critical role of lung aeration in initiating pulmonary gas exchange and increasing PBF is discussed. Physiologic studies in animal models have enabled greater understanding of the mechanisms and effects of various therapies on transitional circulation. With data from sheep models, we elaborate instrumentation for monitoring of cardiovascular and pulmonary physiology and discuss the combined effect of chest compressions and adrenaline in improving transition at birth. Lastly, physiologic adaptation influencing management in human neonatal cohorts with respect to cardiac and vascular impairments in hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and growth restriction is discussed. Impairments in right ventricular function and vascular mechanics hold the key to prognostication and understanding of therapeutic rationale in these critically ill cohorts. The right ventricle and pulmonary circulation seem to be especially affected and may be explored as therapeutic targets. The role of comprehensive assessments using targeted neonatal echocardiography as a longitudinal, reliable, and easily accessible tool, enabling precision medicine facilitating physiologically appropriate treatment choices, is discussed.

Phenobarbital and Clonidine as Secondary Medications for Neonatal Opioid Withdrawal Syndrome

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

Despite the neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS) epidemic in the United States, evidence is limited for pharmacologic management when first-line opioid medications fail to control symptoms. The objective with this study was to evaluate outcomes of infants receiving secondary therapy with phenobarbital compared with clonidine, in combination with morphine, for the treatment of NOWS.

METHODS:

We performed a retrospective cohort study of infants with NOWS from 30 hospitals. The primary outcome measures were the length of hospital stay, duration of opioid treatment, and peak morphine dose. Outcomes were compared by group by using analysis of variance and multivariable linear regression controlling for relevant confounders.

RESULTS:

Of 563 infants with NOWS treated with morphine, 32% (n = 180) also received a secondary medication. Seventy-two received phenobarbital and 108 received clonidine. After adjustment for covariates, length of hospital stay was 10 days shorter, and, in some models, duration of morphine treatment was 7.5 days shorter in infants receiving phenobarbital compared with those receiving clonidine, with no difference in peak morphine dose. Infants were more likely to be discharged from the hospital on phenobarbital than clonidine (78% vs 29%, P < .0001).

CONCLUSIONS:

Among infants with NOWS receiving morphine and secondary therapy, those treated with phenobarbital had shorter length of hospital stay and shorter morphine treatment duration than clonidine-treated infants but were discharged from the hospital more often on secondary medication. Further investigation is warranted to determine if the benefits of shorter hospital stay and shorter duration of morphine therapy justify the possible neurodevelopmental consequences of phenobarbital use in infants with NOWS.

Hospitals Diversity of Diagnosis Groups and Associated Costs of Care

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

Hospitals treating patients with greater diagnosis diversity may have higher fixed and overhead costs. We assessed the relationship between hospitals’ diagnosis diversity and cost per hospitalization for children.

METHODS:

Retrospective analysis of 1 654 869 all-condition hospitalizations for children ages 0 to 21 years from 2816 hospitals in the Kids’ Inpatient Database 2016. Mean hospital cost per hospitalization, Winsorized and log-transformed, was assessed for freestanding children’s hospitals (FCHs), nonfreestanding children’s hospitals (NFCHs), and nonchildren’s hospitals (NCHs). Hospital diagnosis diversity index (HDDI) was calculated by using the D-measure of diversity in Shannon–Wiener entropy index from 1254 diagnosis and severity-of-illness groups distinguished with 3M Health’s All Patient Refined Diagnosis Related Groups. Log-normal multivariable models were derived to regress hospital type on cost per hospitalization, adjusting for hospital-level HDDI in addition to patient-level demographic (eg, age, race and ethnicity) and clinical (eg, chronic conditions) characteristics and hospital teaching status.

RESULTS:

Admission counts were 383 789 (23.2%) in FCHs, 588 463 (35.6%) in NFCHs, and 682 617 (41.2%) in NCHs. Unadjusted mean cost per hospitalization was $10 757 (95% confidence interval [CI]: $9451 to $12 243) in FCHs, $6264 (95% CI: $5830 to $6729) in NFCHs, and $4192 (95% CI: $4121 to $4265) in NCHs. HDDI was significantly (P < .001) higher in FCHs and NFCHs (median 9.2 and 6.4 times higher, respectively) than NCHs. Across all hospitals, greater HDDI was associated (P = .002) with increased cost. Adjusting for HDDI resulted in a nonsignificant (P = .1) difference in cost across hospital types.

CONCLUSIONS:

Greater diagnosis diversity was associated with increased cost per hospitalization and should be considered when assessing associated costs of inpatient care for pediatric patients.

Palliative Care Referrals in Cardiac Disease

OBJECTIVES:

With evidence of benefits of pediatric palliative care (PPC) integration, we sought to characterize subspecialty PPC referral patterns and end of life (EOL) care in pediatric advanced heart disease (AHD).

METHODS:

In this retrospective cohort study, we compared inpatient pediatric (<21 years) deaths due to AHD in 2 separate 3-year epochs: 2007–2009 (early) and 2015–2018 (late). Demographics, disease burden, medical interventions, mode of death, and hospital charges were evaluated for temporal changes and PPC influence.

RESULTS:

Of 3409 early-epoch admissions, there were 110 deaths; the late epoch had 99 deaths in 4032 admissions. In the early epoch, 45 patients (1.3% admissions, 17% deaths) were referred for PPC, compared with 146 late-epoch patients (3.6% admissions, 58% deaths). Most deaths (186 [89%]) occurred in the cardiac ICU after discontinuation of life-sustaining therapy (138 [66%]). Medical therapies included ventilation (189 [90%]), inotropes (184 [88%]), cardiopulmonary resuscitation (68 [33%]), or mechanical circulatory support (67 [32%]), with no temporal difference observed. PPC involvement was associated with decreased mechanical circulatory support, ventilation, inotropes, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation at EOL, and children were more likely to be awake and be receiving enteral feeds. PPC involvement increased advance care planning, with lower hospital charges on day of death and 7 days before (respective differences $5058 [P = .02] and $25 634 [P = .02]).

CONCLUSIONS:

Pediatric AHD deaths are associated with high medical intensity; however, children with PPC consultation experienced substantially less invasive interventions at EOL. Further study is warranted to explore these findings and how palliative care principles can be better integrated into care.

Rhabdomyolysis as the Initial Presentation of SARS-CoV-2 in an Adolescent

The novel coronavirus disease 2019, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, has created a global pandemic, with many cases affecting the elderly. However, children have been affected as well, with ~2.4% to 3.7% of cases reported. This case is the first published case of an adolescent presenting with rhabdomyolysis as the first sign of novel coronavirus disease 2019, with extremely elevated creatinine kinase levels, approaching almost 400 000 U/L. This case adds to the growing body of literature of a variety of life-threatening manifestations associated with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 infection and highlights the importance of how prompt recognition of these unique presentations of the disease is important to mitigate complications.

Factors Associated With Severe SARS-CoV-2 Infection

BACKGROUND:

Initial reports on severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections in children suggested that very young age and comorbidities may increase risk of severe evolution, but these findings remained to be confirmed. We aimed to analyze the clinical spectrum of hospitalized pediatric SARS-CoV-2 infection and predictors of severe disease evolution.

METHODS:

We conducted a French national prospective surveillance of children hospitalized with SARS-CoV-2 infection. We included all children with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection in 60 hospitals during February 15 to June 1, 2020. The main outcome was the proportion of children with severe disease, defined by hemodynamic or ventilatory (invasive or not) support requirement.

RESULTS:

We included 397 hospitalized children with SARS-CoV-2 infection. We identified several clinical patterns, ranging from paucisymptomatic children, admitted for surveillance, to lower respiratory tract infection or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. Children <90 days old accounted for 37% of cases (145 of 397), but only 4 (3%) had severe disease. Excluding children with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (n = 29) and hospitalized for a diagnosis not related to SARS-CoV-2 (n = 62), 23 of 306 (11%) children had severe disease, including 6 deaths. Factors independently associated with severity were age ≥10 years (odds ratio [OR] = 3.4, 95% confidence interval: 1.1–10.3), hypoxemia (OR = 8.9 [2.6–29.7]), C-reactive protein level ≥80 mg/L (OR = 6.6 [1.4–27.5]).

CONCLUSIONS:

In contrast with preliminary reports, young age was not an independent factor associated with severe SARS-CoV-2 infection, and children <90 days old were at the lowest risk of severe disease evolution. This may help physicians to better identify risk of severe disease progression in children.

Arteritis and Large Vessel Occlusive Strokes in Children After COVID-19 Infection

We describe 2 previously healthy children who suffered disabling arterial ischemic strokes because of acute intracranial large vessel occlusion within 3 to 4 weeks of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection. Both children presented from communities with high COVID-19 case rates in the Southwest United States. An 8-year-old American Indian girl experienced severe iron deficiency anemia requiring blood transfusion and presented with bilateral middle cerebral artery (MCA) distribution strokes 3 weeks later. She underwent emergent mechanical thrombectomy of the left MCA with successful clot retrieval but experienced reocclusion of that artery 5 hours after intervention. She also had evidence of cerebral arteritis on catheter angiography and vessel wall imaging, and clot pathology revealed recently formed, unorganized platelet- and fibrin-rich thrombus with sparse clusters of erythrocytes, degenerated histiocytes, few eosinophils, and rare neutrophils. A 16-year old African American boy demonstrated evidence of arteritis on brain magnetic resonance angiography and serological markers of cardiac and renal injury accompanied by positive lupus anticoagulant antibodies. The children described in this report express clinical features inconsistent with focal cerebral arteriopathy, including elevated markers of systemic inflammation in both bilateral MCA strokes in one case and multiple organ system dysfunction in the other case. Neither patient fulfilled criteria for multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, given absence of fever. These cases illustrate that systemic postinfectious arteritis with cerebrovascular involvement may complicate COVID-19 infection in previously healthy school-aged children, and their presentations may overlap but not fulfill criteria for multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children or focal cerebral arteriopathy.

Outcomes of Bariatric Surgery in Older Versus Younger Adolescents

OBJECTIVES:

In this report, we compare weight loss, comorbidity resolution, nutritional abnormalities, and quality of life between younger and older adolescents after metabolic and bariatric surgery.

METHODS:

From March 2007 to December 2011, 242 adolescents (≤19 years of age) who underwent bariatric surgery at 5 clinical centers in the United States were enrolled in the prospective, multicenter, long-term outcome study Teen–Longitudinal Assessment of Bariatric Surgery. Outcome data from younger (13–15 years; n = 66) and older (16–19 years; n = 162) study participants were compared. Outcomes included percent BMI change, comorbidity outcomes (hypertension, dyslipidemia, and type 2 diabetes mellitus), nutritional abnormalities, and quality of life over 5 years post surgery.

RESULTS:

Baseline characteristics, except for age, between the 2 cohorts were similar. No significant differences in frequency of remission of hypertension (P = .84) or dyslipidemia (P = .74) were observed between age groups. Remission of type 2 diabetes mellitus was high in both groups, although statistically higher in older adolescents (relative risk 0.86; P = .046). Weight loss and quality of life were similar in the 2 age groups. Younger adolescents were less likely to develop elevated transferrin (prevalence ratio 0.52; P = .048) and low vitamin D levels (prevalence ratio 0.8; P = .034).

CONCLUSIONS:

The differences in outcome of metabolic and bariatric surgery between younger and older adolescents were few. These data suggest that younger adolescents with severe obesity should not be denied consideration for surgical therapy on the basis of age alone and that providers should consider adolescents of all ages for surgical therapy for obesity when clinically indicated.

A Trainee-Led Social Media Advocacy Campaign to Address COVID-19 Inequities

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has had a significant impact on the health of people globally. Yet, not all people are being affected by this crisis equally. In the United States, this pandemic has exacerbated long-standing inequities and entrenched structural racism. At the onset of the crisis, few data were available detailing the demographic characteristics of individuals with COVID-19. However, as data emerged, it became apparent that communities of color were disproportionately affected. To illustrate these inequities, we analyzed publicly available race and ethnicity data on COVID-19 cases and deaths and were one of the first groups to compile these findings. We launched a social media campaign to highlight these racial and ethnic inequities and raise awareness among public and elected officials. Given the tremendous amount of missing data, we demanded transparency in state reporting of race and ethnicity data. Using both messaging and mapping tools, we publicized state and city efforts to address these inequities, focusing on the creation of task forces tackling the racial inequities of COVID-19. As racial and ethnic data on COVID-19 cases and mortality became more widely reported, statistics emerged about the downstream effects of these inequities. Despite initial false reassurance that COVID-19 largely spared children, the pandemic has exacerbated many social needs, leading to significant negative impacts on children. For example, as pediatricians, we saw how worsening food insecurity was affecting children. Using social media and infographics, we launched an additional stage of the campaign to illustrate these inequities and highlight advocacy opportunities.

Perspectives on Race and Medicine in the NICU

Current data regarding racial and ethnic disparities in health outcomes of newborns requiring care in an NICU reveal significant differences in quality and access to care that disproportionally affects infants of color, particularly African American infants. These inequalities result in an increased infant mortality rate for Black children and higher preterm birth rates, as well as an increase in deaths due to low birth weight and decreased gestational age. Concurrently, there is emerging research exploring the role of diversity and adequate representation among medical providers in patient outcomes in Black communities. In this editorial, we present commentaries from a medical student, a neonatologist, and a parent of former NICU patients to further explore race in the NICU from different perspectives and understand what can be learned from their experiences about these systemic issues and why representation is a critical component of successful change.

Suicide Ideation and Attempts in a Pediatric Emergency Department Before and During COVID-19

OBJECTIVES:

Elevated rates of mental health concerns have been identified during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic. In this study, we sought to evaluate whether youth reported a greater frequency of suicide-related behaviors during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic as compared with 2019. We hypothesized that rates of suicide-related behaviors would be elevated between the months of March and July 2020 as compared with 2019, corresponding to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

METHODS:

Routine suicide-risk screening was completed with youth aged 11 to 21 in a pediatric emergency department. Electronic health records data for suicide-risk screens completed between January and July 2019 and January and July 2020 were evaluated. A total of 9092 completed screens were examined (mean age 14.72 years, 47.7% Hispanic and/or Latinx, 26.7% non-Hispanic white, 18.7% non-Hispanic Black).

RESULTS:

Rates of positive suicide-risk screen results from January to July 2020 were compared with corresponding rates from January to July 2019. Results indicated a significantly higher rate of suicide ideation in March and July 2020 and higher rates of suicide attempts in February, March, April, and July 2020 as compared with the same months in 2019.

CONCLUSIONS:

Rates of suicide ideation and attempts were higher during some months of 2020 as compared with 2019 but were not universally higher across this period. Months with significantly higher rates of suicide-related behaviors appear to correspond to times when COVID-19–related stressors and community responses were heightened, indicating that youth experienced elevated distress during these periods.

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