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How many children and young people with life-limiting conditions are clinically unstable? A national data linkage study

Journal title
Archives of disease in childhood
Publication year
Jarvis, S.; Parslow, R. C.; Carragher, P.; Beresford, B.; Fraser, L. K.

OBJECTIVE: To determine the clinical stage (stable, unstable, deteriorating or dying) for children and young people (CYP) aged 0-25 years in Scotland with life-limiting conditions (LLCs). DESIGN: National cohort of CYP with LLCs using linked routinely collected healthcare data. SETTING: Scotland. PATIENTS: 20 436 CYP identified as having LLCs and resident in Scotland between 1 April 2009 and 31 March 2014. MAIN OUTCOME: Clinical stage based on emergency inpatient and intensive care unit admissions and date of death. RESULTS: Over 2200 CYP with LLCs in Scotland were unstable, deteriorating or dying in each year. Compared with 1-year-olds to 5-year-olds, children under 1 year of age had the highest risk of instability (OR 6.4, 95% CI 5.7 to 7.1); all older age groups had lower risk. Girls were more likely to be unstable than boys (OR 1.15, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.24). CYP of South Asian (OR 1.61, 95% CI 1.28 to 2.01), Black (OR 1.58, 95% CI 1.04 to 2.41) and Other (OR 1.33, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.74) ethnicity were more likely to experience instability than White CYP. Deprivation was not a significant predictor of instability. Compared with congenital abnormalities, CYP with most other primary diagnoses had a higher risk of instability; only CYP with a primary perinatal diagnosis had significantly lower risk (OR 0.23, 95% CI 0.19 to 0.29). CONCLUSIONS: The large number of CYP with LLCs who are unstable, deteriorating or dying may benefit from input from specialist paediatric palliative care. The age group under 1 and CYP of South Asian, Black and Other ethnicities should be priority groups.

Research abstracts