TUESDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- Children of deployed active duty military personnel have a greater risk of being hospitalized for a mental or behavioral health disorder, with the risk of hospitalization increasing with increased length of parental deployment, according to research presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association, held from May 14 to 18 in Honolulu.
In a retrospective cohort study, Jeffrey Millegan, M.D., M.P.H., of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Md., and colleagues linked records of 377,565 children, aged 9 to 17 years, of active duty personnel during fiscal years 2007 through 2009 with their parent's deployment records.
The data revealed that 2,533 children were hospitalized for a mental or behavioral health disorder with a median length of hospital stay of eight days. In addition, 32 percent of the children had a parent deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom during the study period. After adjusting for multiple covariates, the investigators found that the odds ratio of hospitalization for children with a deployed parent was 1.10. Although not statistically significant, the odds ratio of hospitalization among children with parents who were deployed less than 180 days was 1.028. However, the odds ratio of hospitalization among children with parents who were deployed greater than 180 days was 1.12, with a test of trend that was statistically significant.
"A greater focus should be placed on the mental health of children of active duty during the deployment cycle," the authors write.