STUDY OBJECTIVE--To describe differences in childhood hospital admissions at ages 1 to 5 years in two generations, and to compare the intergenerational differences in risks of admission. DESIGN--Information was taken from a longitudinal birth cohort study of a national sample and their firstborn offspring. SETTING--England, Wales, and Scotland. SUBJECTS--the 5022 birth cohort members for whom information is available from ages 1 to 5 years and their 2205 firstborn offspring. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS--Data comprised reports of hospital admissions, which were checked with hospitals. Mean numbers of days spent in hospital were fewer in the offspring generation than in their parents, but the proportion ever admitted fell by only 1%. Low birth weight babies (< 2500 g), who comprised 6% of cohort births and 7% of the following generation, used a high proportion of all inpatient time in the offspring population, rising from 3% to 14% of all days of admission. CONCLUSIONS--Compared with the early years of the NHS, published statistics show that the effectiveness of paediatric care has improved greatly, and that childhood mortality and the risk of serious illness have decreased significantly. This study reports intergenerational changes in the reasons for hospital admission and shows, with the benefit of good denominator data, that although there was only a small intergenerational decrease in the proportion of children treated in hospital, there was a large reduction in the time spent in hospital and an increase in admissions of children of low birth weight.
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