Headache is the third leading cause of referral to a pediatric emergency department, but specific numbers of hospital admissions for headache are not widely available. A recent study by Kabbouche et al. set out to determine the change in hospital utilization in the US for headache as a primary diagnosis in the pediatric population and to evaluate any differences between hospital types. Data for this study was obtained from the HCUPnet KIDS, which is an interface to a large national database of all payer inpatient discharges including emergency departments for patients ages 0-17 years old. Data from the years 1997, 2000, 2003, and 2006 was used. When the data was compiled, it was found that there were 3955 visits for headache in 1997, 5157 visits in 2000, 6930 visits in 2003, and 7484 visits in 2006. While the overall number of hospital visits remained relatively constant between the years, between 1997 and 2006 the amount of admissions for pediatric headaches experienced a nearly twofold increase. The amount of children and adolescents with headache seeking care through admission to emergency departments or inpatient units increased steadily from 1997-2006; this trend demonstrates that more patients are seeking acute facilities for their intractable headache. The growing number of children and adolescents seeking admission emphasizes the need for specific guidelines and evidence based research to identify the best care for these patients. The study also concluded that further research is needed to define the etiologies of these trends and develop interventions to minimize the impact in the future.
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