Published: 25-04-2022 13:47 | Updated: 07-06-2022 11:57

Systematic review of Ukrainian children’s health

Illustration from Ludvigsson and Loboda, Acta Paediatrica 2022

Millions of Ukrainian children have been displaced, either internally or as refugees, by the war with Russia. A systematic review by researchers at Karolinska Institutet and Ukraine’s Sumy State University has compiled the scientific literature on children’s health in Ukraine. The study, which is published in the journal Acta Paediatrica, could prove useful for clinicians treating refugee children from Ukraine.

The researchers note that the Ukrainian healthcare system has improved in recent years, with subsidised drugs in certain cases and a slightly higher vaccination uptake amongst children. Despite this, however, the study finds a greater incidence of measles, HIV, antibiotic resistance and multi-resistant tuberculosis in Ukraine than in other European countries. Vaccine scepticism is also widespread in the country. The war and the displacement of children have exacerbated this situation.

Specific health challenges

Jonas F. Ludvigsson, professor at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet.
Jonas F. Ludvigsson. Photo: Pavel Koubek (Icon Photography)

“The care needs of refugee children are often different to those of other children and there are specific health challenges in Ukraine that we mean our paper to elucidate,” says Jonas F. Ludvigsson, paediatrician at Örebro University Hospital in Sweden and professor at the Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet. “Otherwise, there is a danger that healthcare services in the countries receiving refugees underestimate how vulnerable these children are.”

The study has not received any specific financing. Jonas F. Ludvigsson leads a study on behalf of the Swedish IBD quality register (SWIBREG) and financed by Janssen. There are no other reported conflicts of interest.


“Systematic review of health and disease in Ukrainian children highlights poor child health and challenges for those treating refugees”, Jonas F. Ludvigsson, Andrii Loboda, Acta Paediatrica, online 24 April 2022, doi: 10.1111/APA.16370.