Teenagers hospitalized in Illinois suffer from mental disorders more often than almost any other problem, a new report says.
But a child psychiatrist says pregnancy and alcohol abuse are greater health threats.The most commonly recorded mental problem - psychosis - accounted for 5,729 teen hospitalizations in Illinois in 1989, the most recent year for which figures are available, said the report.
Excluding childbirth, psychosis was the top diagnosis for teenagers of both sexes, said the report, released Wednesday.
"Not only is mental illness one of the most common reasons our youth are hospitalized, it's also among the most costly," said John Noak, executive director of the Illinois Health Care Cost Containment Council, which wrote the report.
"While most teenagers who are admitted to the hospital are discharged within a few days, it's not unusual for young patients suffering from psychoses or neuroses to be hospitalized for weeks at a time at costs of up to $17,000 per case."
While the number of teen-pregnancy hospitalizations numbered far greater at 46,125, the council focused on mental illness because fewer people are aware of its toll, said council spokesman Brian Grif-fin.
But Dr. Bennett Leventhal, chairman of psychiatry at the University of Chicago, said pregnancy shouldn't be played down as teens' leading health problem.
"It's not only a problem because of the number of of admissions and their costs but also because of child care costs and the risk of complications, which increase enormously" among teenage patients, he said.
The report found that for boys, the second most common reason for hospitalization after psychosis was appendectomy; followed by bronchitis and asthma; alcohol or drug dependence; digestive disorders; then depression.
Girls were hospitalized for pregnancy; psychosis; infections of the reproductive tract; digestive disorders; depression; and poisoning and the toxic effects of drugs.