Overview of Hospital Stays for Children

HCUP Statistical Brief #187

Nearly one out of every six discharges from U.S. hospitals in 2012 was for children aged 17 years and younger, the majority of whom were infants, including newborns. Between 2008 and 2012, the rate of hospitalization decreased by 0.6 percent per year among infants and 0.9 percent per year among children aged 1-17 years. A variety of factors may explain the recent trends in children's hospitalizations, including changes in the conditions for which children are being treated.

Overview of Hospital Stays for Children in the United States, a statistical brief from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project, presents data on hospital inpatient stays among children aged 17 years and younger in 2012. Data were taken from the HCUP Kids' Inpatient Database (KID), which is created once every 3 years. The KID is the only database specifically developed to study hospitalizations among children.


  • In 2012 there were nearly 5.9 million hospital stays for children in the United States, of which 3.9 million were neonatal stays and 104,700 were maternal stays for pregnant teens.
  • Between 2000 and 2012, the number of neonatal stays (births) fluctuated around 4.0 million stays, reaching a high of 4.3 million in 2006. Hospital stays for teen pregnancies decreased by 47 percent over the 12-year period.
  • In 2012, Medicaid covered over half (51.6 percent) of nonneonatal and nonmaternal stays for children and about a quarter (26.4 percent) of stays for adults aged 18-44 years. In contrast, 2.7 percent of stays for children were uninsured compared with 16.9 percent of stays for adults aged 18-44 years.
  • From 2000 to 2012, the proportion of hospital stays for children paid by Medicaid increased by 33 percent, and the proportion paid by private insurance decreased by 21 percent.
  • For most conditions, the rate of hospitalization for children decreased or remained relatively unchanged from 2000 to 2012. Only skin conditions showed an increase in rate of hospitalization (35.6 percent). Substantial decreases in rates of hospitalization over the 12-year period were observed for HIV infection (89.9 percent) and substance abuse (60.1 percent).
  • Respiratory diagnoses—pneumonia, acute bronchitis, and asthma; mood disorders; appendicitis; and epilepsy/convulsions were the most common specific conditions for which children were hospitalized.

Select to access Overview of Hospital Stays for Children in the United States.

Page last reviewed January 2015
Internet Citation: Overview of Hospital Stays for Children: HCUP Statistical Brief #187. January 2015. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Rockville, MD. http://www.ahrq.gov/news/hcup.html