Adolescent eating-disorder hospitalizations increase at institution

July 9, 2021

At one Michigan hospital, the number of hospital admissions among adolescents with eating disorders more than doubled during the first 12 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study that appears in a pre-publication of Pediatrics as reported in a news release from Michigan Medicine.

The 125 hospitalizations among patients ages 10-23 at Michigan Medicine in those 12 months reflect a significant increase over previous years, as admissions related to eating disorders during the same timeframe between 2017 and 2019 averaged 56 per year.

But the numbers may represent only a fraction of those with eating disorders affected by the pandemic, researchers said, as they only included young people whose severe illness led to hospitalization.

The study also suggests the rate of admissions at the institution steadily increased over time during the first year of the pandemic. The highest rates of admissions per month occurred between nine and 12 months after the pandemic began, with rates continuing to climb when the study period ended in March 2021.

While the study is limited by its small sample size, it comes as international reports indicate increases in both outpatient referrals to child and adolescent eating disorder services and inpatient admissions related to anorexia nervosa among adolescents.

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