Covid-19 is one of the leading causes of death among children in the United States, despite a relatively low death rate

Covid-19 is one of the leading causes of death among children in the United States, despite a relatively low death rate


Covid-19 has become the eighth leading cause of death among children in the United States, according to a study published Monday.

Children are significantly less likely to die from Covid-19 than any other age group — less than 1% of all deaths since the start of the pandemic have been among those under 18, according to federal data. Covid-19 was the third leading cause of death in the general population.

But it is rare for children to die for any reason, the researchers wrote, so the burden of Covid-19 is best understood in the context of other pediatric deaths.

“Paediatric deaths are rare by any standard. It’s something we don’t expect and it’s a tragedy in a unique way. It’s a really profound event,” said Dr. Sean O’Leary, chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics’ committee on infectious diseases.

“Everyone knows that Covid is most severe in older, immunocompromised people and less severe in children, but that doesn’t mean it’s a mild illness in children. It’s not not because the numbers are so much lower in children that they don’t have an impact.

In 2019, the last year before the pandemic, the leading causes of death among children and young adults aged 0-19 included perinatal conditions, unintentional injuries, birth defects or deformities, assault, suicide, malignant tumors, heart disease and influenza and pneumonia.

The researchers’ analysis of data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that there were 821 Covid-19 deaths in this age group over a 12-month period from August 2021 to July 2022. This death rate – about 1 per 100,000 children aged 0 to 19 – ranks eighth highest compared to 2019 data. It ranks fifth among adolescents aged 15 to 19 .

Covid-19 deaths replace influenza and pneumonia, becoming the leading cause of death from any infectious or respiratory disease. It has caused “substantially” more deaths than any vaccine-preventable disease historically, the researchers wrote.

According to CDC data, children are less vaccinated against Covid-19 than any other age group in the United States. Less than 10% of eligible children have received their updated booster and more than 90% of children under 5 are completely unvaccinated.

“If we looked at all these other leading causes of death – whether it’s traffic accidents or childhood cancers – and said, ‘My God, if we had one simple and safe thing to do for us get rid of one of those, wouldn’t we jump on it?’ University of Colorado and Children’s Hospital of Colorado.

A CDC survey of blood samples suggests more than 90% of children have had Covid-19 at least once.

There is uncertainty about the exact level of risk the virus will continue to pose, O’Leary said, but the potential benefits of vaccination clearly outweigh the potential risks.

“Vaccination is clearly our best option right now,” and the benefits clearly outweigh the risks, he said. “Prevention is better than cure.”

The results of the new study, published in JAMA Network Open, may underestimate the mortality burden of Covid-19 because the analysis focuses on deaths where Covid-19 was an underlying cause of death but not those where it could have been a contributing factor, the researchers wrote. Additionally, other analyzes of excess deaths suggest that Covid-19 deaths have been underreported.

As Covid-19 continues to spread in the United States, researchers say intervention methods such as vaccination and ventilation “will continue to play an important role in limiting virus transmission and mitigating severe illness.”

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