Objective: To evaluate whether there are differences in acute general paediatric problems and their severity between children with different ethnic backgrounds.
Method: The following information was registered for patients who visited the paediatric emergency department at the Sophia Children's Hospital in Rotterdam, the Netherlands (1988 through to 1997): demographics, reason for encounter, diagnoses, diagnostics performed and follow-up. Ethnicity was determined by patient's surname. Analyses were performed using the chi 2 test, non-parametric Kruskal-Wallis test and multiple logistic regression.
Results: Fifty-one percent of all patients belonged to one of the ethnic minority groups. Infection-related problems were seen more often in Turkish (45%) and Moroccan (46%) children than in Dutch children (41%). Of those children with infection-related problems, the Turkish children were less likely to need X-rays (odds ratio: 0.73), laboratory diagnostics (0.72), an outpatient follow-up (0.79) or hospital admission (0.74). On the other hand, Moroccan paediatric patients were admitted slightly more frequently (to the intensive care department) and were more likely to have a lower respiratory tract infection (1.65).
Conclusions: There were some differences between Dutch children and ethnic minorities in terms of the reasons for encounter and the severity of the problem. Compared with Dutch children, Turkish children presented with less severe infection-related problems, while Moroccan children had more severe infection problems.