Research & Resources

Five-Year Trends in U.S. Children’s Health and Well-Being, 2016–2020

In this study, researchers examined trends in children’s health-related measures, including significant changes between 2019 and 2020 that might be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. Annual data were examined from the National Survey of Children’s Health (2016–2020), a population-based, nationally representative survey of randomly selected children. Participants were children from birth to age 17 living in non-institution settings in all 50 states and the District of Columbia whose parent or caregiver responded to an address-based survey by mail or online. Researchers found significant increases in children’s diagnosed anxiety and depression, decreases in physical activity, and decreases in caregiver mental and emotional well-being and ability to cope with parenting demands. After the onset of the pandemic specifically, there were significant year-over-year increases in children’s diagnosed behavioral or conduct problems, decreases in preventive medical care visits, increases in unmet health care needs, and increases in the proportion of young children whose parents quit, declined, or changed jobs because of childcare problems. Findings point to several areas of concern that can inform future research, clinical care, policy decision-making, and programmatic investments to improve the health and well-being of children and their families.

This paper, “Five-year trends in US children’s health and well-being, 2016–2020,” was funded by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) and published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

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