Hospital Contacts for Infectious Diseases Among Children in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden, 2008-2017

Lise Gehrt*, Ida Laake, Hélène Englund, Heta Nieminen, Christine Stabell Benn, Berit Feiring, Lill Trogstad, Arto A Palmu, Signe Sørup

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Purpose: Comparing rates of childhood infectious disease hospitalisations across countries may uncover areas for improvement in the prevention of severe childhood infections. We compared rates of childhood infectious disease hospital contacts across Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden with the overall objective to elucidate potential differences in burden of disease and in organisational and registration practices.

Methods: Using national registries, we estimated incidence rates for infectious disease hospital contacts between 2008 and 2017 among children aged 0-14 years. We investigated the rates for different types of contacts (inpatient or outpatient including emergency room), duration of admission, and by sex.

Results: During the study period, the rate of all hospital contacts per 1000 person-years was highest in Sweden (125.2) followed by Finland (87.1), Denmark (79.0), and Norway (62.1). The rates aligned for inpatient contacts with overnight stays; 19.3 (Denmark), 16.6 (Finland), 16.3 (Norway), and 13.0 (Sweden); these were highest in early infancy in all countries. A peak around 1 year of age was seen in all countries except in Sweden. The rates were higher among boys compared with girls in early childhood, after 13 years of age the rates among girls surpassed the boys.

Conclusion: Large cross-country differences were observed for outpatient and short-term hospital contacts for infectious diseases, affected by differences in organisational structures and coding practices across and within countries over time. Inpatient contacts requiring overnight stays reflected more comparable levels of severe infections across countries. Childhood infectious disease morbidity was greatest among boys and before 2 years of age.

Original languageEnglish
JournalClinical epidemiology
Pages (from-to)609-621
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • Nordic countries
  • infectious disease hospitalisations
  • multinational study
  • paediatric
  • patient registry


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