Number of infant health assessments drops due to Covid - report

Figures from the HSE showed almost 50 per cent fewer health assessments were carried out on babies in 2020 compared to the previous year
Number of infant health assessments drops due to Covid - report

The number of health assessments carried out on infants fell by almost 50 per cent due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Newstalk reports new figures from the HSE show the number of assessments conducted in 2020 was just 28,184, compared to 53,524 assessments carried out in 2019.

The HSE said the drop was on account of public health nurses being redeployed to other areas of the health service during the pandemic.

The assessments, of which children typically have three in their early years, aid the detection of a variety of health issues, such as hearing and eyesight difficulties.

Speaking to Newstalk, assistant professor in public health and primary care at Trinity College Dublin Brendan O'Shea said assessment delays could mean delayed diagnosis for children with health issues.

"[In the health assessments] we pick up things like lazy-eye and clicky hips. If you pick up on a lazy-eye at a six-month check-up, it's very easy to manage, but if you pick it up three of five years later the outcome is a lot less good and it involves eye surgery," he said.

"In Ireland, we have really good healthcare. We have fantastic resources at the family-level in most households, but not in all households.

"We know that in areas of depravation we need greater support at the household-level. We are actually bad in Ireland for per-capita spending on child [health]care, so it would be better if these [health assessment] visits were happening," Dr O'Shea added.

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