The corona pandemic has huge health consequences for children

MMore depression, more eating disorders: The pandemic has “massive health consequences” for children and young people in Germany. This is the result of the children and young people report 2022, which the health insurance company DAK published on Friday, chairman of the Pediatricians’ Professional Association.

This is shown by the fact that the number of treatments for young people with depression and eating disorders in 2021 increased significantly compared to the previous year. 28 percent more 15- to 17-year-olds with depression and 17 percent more older teens with eating disorders visited clinics. The situation is the same for emotional disorders: In 2021, the number of fifteen to seventeen-year-olds receiving 24-hour treatment increased by 42 percent. Emotional disorders include, for example, separation anxiety, social anxiety, or phobic disorders such as fear of imaginary figures.

Similar trends can be observed among school children between the ages of ten and fourteen. Here, hospitalization treatments for depression (plus 27 percent), anxiety disorders (25), and eating disorders (21) increased. Girls in particular suffered from the corona burden. Last year, between the ages of 15 and 17, they were 32 times more likely to be hospitalized than boys with eating disorders. The proportion of young patients with eating disorders increased by 25 percent compared to the previous year and by 40 percent compared to 2019. In addition, girls came to clinics more often due to depression, anxiety and emotional disorders.

policy requirements

The data also show that primary school children primarily suffer from disorders in social functions, ie attachment disorders and developmental disorders. In 2021, 36 percent more children between the ages of five and nine were treated in clinics for disorders of social functions. For developmental disorders, it was an increase of eleven percent. It is striking that boys were treated more often than girls in this context.

For the period 2019 to 2021, anonymised accounting data from around 800,000 children and young people aged up to 17 years, who are insured in DAK, have been examined. There are demands attached to politicians for the report: “Our current child and youth report shows how much boys and girls suffer during the pandemic. The sharp rise in depression or eating disorders is a silent cry for help to wake us up, “says Andreas Storm, CEO of DAK-Gesundheit. The issue should now be given greater weight: “The situation has deteriorated dramatically in recent years, but politicians have not yet responded accordingly.”

Children and young people are just as vulnerable a group in the population as old or formerly ill citizens during the corona pandemic, says Fischbach, chairman of the Pediatricians’ Professional Association. “While the latter, of course, also rightly received attention and care, those in charge of politics for more than two years simply ignored the needs and demands of the younger generation, which are just as vital,” Fischbach criticizes. The damage from this is significant, as this report from DAK shows – the extent of the permanent damage is today difficult to assess.

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