Aim: To study temporal trends in the incidence of hospitalisations due to infection in children in Denmark.
Methods: A national register based cohort of 1 892 711 Danish children aged 0-5 years were studied from 1980 to 2001. Child and family characteristics were identified in the Danish Civil Registration System; hospitalisations were identified in the Danish National Patient Registry. Annual incidence rates were estimated using log-linear Poisson regression.
Results: During the studied period, the incidence of hospitalisations from infection increased by 62% in 0-5 year old children. The increase was mainly due to a sevenfold increase in the incidence of infections leading to short term hospitalisation in children aged 0-1 years. Since the increase in incidence was contrasted with a decrease in duration of hospitalisation, no further strain was put on the health services in Denmark.
Conclusion: During the last two decades, the incidence of short term hospitalisations due to infections increased markedly among the youngest children. However, the strain on the health services remained constant. The observed increase in the incidence of short term hospitalisations among the youngest children may reflect changes in hospitalisation practices and utilisation, rather than an increase in incidence of infections.