Background: There are few studies that demonstrate the health benefit of compliance with early periodic health supervision.
Objective: To examine the association between emergency department (ED) use and compliance with prevailing guidelines for periodic health supervision for conditions that potentially could be avoided among a national cohort of US children.
Design: This was a historic cohort study that combined maternal and primary care physician reports of the use of preventive care services for infants during the first 7 months of life from the 1988 National Maternal and Infant Health Survey and its 1991 Longitudinal Follow-up study. A preventive care scale used in Cox proportional hazards survival regression predicted the time to the first ED visit for selected diagnoses and all-cause visits controlling for illness severity.
Results: Among children with incomplete well-child care in the first 6 months of life, there was an increased risk of having an ED visit for an upper respiratory tract infection (hazard ratio, 2.3; 95% confidence interval, 1.6-3.2), gastroenteritis (hazard ratio, 1.8; 95% confidence interval, 1.0-3.0), asthma (hazard ratio, 2.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.0-4.3), and all-cause ED visits (hazard ratio, 1.6; 95% confidence interval, 1.4-1.98).
Conclusions: Because of the positive effect compliance with national guidelines for early well-child care has on lowering the risk of experiencing ED use, national efforts to improve the quality of child health services for young children should focus on increasing compliance with periodic preventive care for young children.