Kids gone wild – Alcohol use and patient characteristics in pediatric trauma during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic

Neesha S. Patel, Brett H. Waibel, Bennett J. Berning, WT Hillman Terzian, Charity H. Evans, Angela M. Hanna, Mark E. Hamill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Importance: Reported coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic effects on pediatric trauma have been variable. Objective: We investigated the characteristics of pediatric trauma including alcohol use during the pandemic at our urban trauma center. Methods: The trauma database of our adult level 1 trauma center was queried for all pediatric (age ≤ 18 years) patients presenting between March 1, 2020, and October 30, 2020. Data from 2017 to 2019 served as a control. Variables analyzed included demographics, mechanisms, injury severity, hospitalization characteristics, and positive blood alcohol. Results: Pandemic pediatric trauma volumes increased by 67.5% (330/year vs. 197/year). Pandemic patients were younger (median age 13 vs. 14 years, P = 0.011), but similar in gender, ethnicity, severity, hospital length of stay, mortality, and rates of penetrating injury. Falls doubled (79/year vs. 34/year) and shifted away from high falls >6 meters (0% vs. 7.9%) to moderate falls 1–6 meters (58.2% vs. 51.5%) (P = 0.028). Transportation injury rates were similar however mechanisms shifted from motor vehicle crashes (−13.5%) towards recreational vehicles including motorcycles (+2.1%), all-terrain vehicles (+8.6%), and bicycles (+3.8%) (P = 0.018). Pediatric-positive blood alcohol was significantly higher (11.2% vs. 5.1%, P < 0.001), especially for ages 14–18 years (21.7% vs. 9.5%, P < 0.001). Interpretation: Pediatric trauma volumes during the COVID-19 pandemic increased. Pandemic patients had more recreational vehicle injuries and higher rates of positive blood alcohol. This suggests an increased need for alcohol assessment and targeted interventions in the pediatric population during pandemics or periods of school closures.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)225-232
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Investigation
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2023


  • Alcohol
  • COVID-19
  • Pediatric trauma
  • Pediatrics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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