The Hidden U.S. COVID-19 Pandemic: Orphaned Children-Over 140,000 U.S. Children Miss a Primary or Secondary Caregiver Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic | CDC Online Newsroom


One child in the United States loses one parent or guardian for every four deaths related to COVID-19, a new model studyexternal icon published today on Pediatrics revealed. The findings illustrate orphanage as a hidden and ongoing secondary tragedy caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and cite the fact that identifying and caring for children throughout development is a necessity. and urgent part of the pandemic response – both if the pandemic persists, as well as in the post -pandemic era.

From April 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021, data suggests that more than 140,000 children under the age of 18 in the United States lost a parent, caring grandparent, or foster grandparent. providing the child’s home and basic necessities, including love, security, and daily care. Overall, the study showed that approximately 1 in 500 children in the United States have experienced a child orphanage identified with COVID-19 or the death of a parental caregiver. There are racial, ethnic, and geographical disparities in the deaths of COVID-19 caregivers: children of racial and ethnic minorities accounted for 65% of those who lost a primary caregiver. -five due to pandemic.

Children’s lives are permanently altered by the loss of a mother, father, or grandfather who provided them with shelter, basic needs, and care. Parental loss is one of the adverse childhood experiences (ACE) associated with mental health problems; shorter schooling; low self -confidence; sexually dangerous behavior; and increased risk of drug abuse, suicide, violence, sexual abuse, and exploitation.

“Children facing orphanage as a result of COVID are a hidden, global pandemic that sadly has not saved the United States,” said Susan Hillis, CDC researcher and lead author of the study. “All of us – especially our children – will feel the severe and immediate impact of this problem on future generations. Addressing the loss that children experience – and continue to experience – should be one of the top priorities. , and must be woven into all aspects of our emergency response, both now and in the future after the pandemic.

The study was a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Imperial College London, Harvard University, Oxford University, and the University of Cape Town, South Africa. Published in the October 7 issue of the journal Pediatrics, jointly led by CDC’s COVID Response and Imperial College London, and partly funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), as well as Imperial College London.

“The size of the young people affected is a poignant reminder of the devastating impact of the past 18 months,” said Dr Alexandra Blenkinsop, co-lead researcher, Imperial College London. “These findings really highlight children who are left more vulnerable to pandemic disease, and where more resources need to be added.”

Analysis of mortality, fertility, and census data was used to estimate COVID-19-related orphanhood (death of one or both parents) and deaths of caregivers of the grandmother and fellow grandparents between April 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, for the U.S. for the most part, and for every state. “COVID-19-related deaths” refers to the combination of deaths directly caused by COVID-19 and causes indirectly by co-causes, such as lockdowns, restrictions on accumulations and movement, reduced access or quality of health care and treatment for chronic diseases. Data were also segregated and analyzed by race and ethnicity, including White, Black, Asian, and American Indian / Alaska Native populations, and Hispanic and non -Hispanic populations.

The study authors estimated that 120,630 U.S. children lost a primary caregiver, (a parent or grandparent responsible for providing housing, basic needs and care) because of association with COVID-19. In addition, 22,007 children experienced the death of a secondary caregiver (grandparents who provided housing but not particularly primary needs). In all, 142,637 children are estimated to have experienced the death of at least one parent, or a homeowner or other joint caregiver of the grandparent.

“The death of a number of parents is a huge loss that can also be the life of a child. We need to work to ensure that all children have access to evidence-based prevention tools that can help them navigate this trauma, to support their future health and mental well-being, ”said NIDA. Director Nora D. Volkow, MD. “At the same time, we need to address the many underlying inequalities and differences in health that put people of color at greater risk of getting COVID-19 and dying from of COVID-19, which puts children of color at greater risk of losing their parent or caregiver and associated adverse effects on their development. ”

Racial and ethnic differences in caregiver loss associated with COVID

There were significant racial and ethnic differences in caregiver deaths due to COVID-19. White people represent 61% of the total U.S. population and people with racial and ethnic minorities represent 39% of the total population. However, the results of the study showed that non-Hispanic White children accounted for 35% of the losses of a primary caregiver (51,381 children), while the children with racial and ethnic minorities accounted for 65% of those who lost a primary caregiver (91,256 children).

When looking at both primary and secondary caregivers, the study found that the findings were significantly different by race / ethnicity: 1 in every 168 American Indian / Alaska Native Children, 1 in every 310 Black children, 1 in every 412 Hispanic children, 1 in every 612 Asian children, and 1 in every 753 White children have experienced orphanage or death by caregivers. Compared to white children, American Indian / Alaska Native children were 4.5 times more likely to lose a parent or caregiver, Black children were 2.4 times more likely, and Hispanic children were nearly 2 times (1.8) likely.

Overall, the states with the largest populations-California, Texas, and New York-have the highest number of children facing deaths among COVID-19 primary care providers. However, when analyzed by geography and race / ethnicity, the authors were able to map how deaths varied and varied at the state level.

In the southern states along the U.S.-Mexico border, including New Mexico, Texas, and California, between 49% and 67% of children who have lost a primary caregiver are from Hispanic ethnicity. In the southeast, across Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi, between 45% to 57% of children who have lost a primary caregiver are Blacks. And American Indian / Alaska children who have lost a primary caregiver are consistently represented in South Dakota (55%), New Mexico (39%), Montana (38%), Oklahoma (23%. ), and Arizona (18%).

The present study follows in accordance with a same studyexternal icon published in The Lancet in July 2021, which saw more than 1.5 million children worldwide lose a primary or secondary caregiver during the first 14 months of the COVID-19 pandemic. In both the world and US studies, researchers used UNICEF’s definition of orphanage, such as the death of one or both parents.6. Included is the definition of children who have lost a parent, because they are at increased risk of mental health problems, abuse, insecure housing, and homelessness. . For children raised by single parents, the COVID-19-related death of a parent may represent the loss of the person primarily responsible for providing love, security, and daily care. atiman.

“We have always considered the impact of COVID -19 in terms of the number of lives claimed by the disease, but as this study shows, it is also critical to discuss the broader impact – both in terms of deaths , and those that are left behind, ”said one study author Charles A. Nelson III, PhD.external icon who studied the effects of difficulty on brain and behavioral development at Boston Children’s Hospital. “We need to ensure that children who have lost a parent or caregiver have access to the support services they need, and that this added impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is comprehensively addressed with both quick response and overall public health response. “

There are evidence-based responses that can improve outcomes for children who have experienced COVID-related deaths among their caregivers.

  • Keeping children in their family is a priority. This means that families who have died of pandemic disease need to be supported, and those in need of kinship or care should be able to receive services quickly.
  • Child resilience can be strengthened through programs and policies that promote strong, healthy relationships and address childhood adversity. Key strategies include:
    • Strengthening the economic supports of families.
    • Quality child support and education.
    • Evidence -based programs to improve parenting skills and family relationships.
  • All strategies should be age-specific for children and should be sensitive to disagreement with different and unequal structures. They need to reach the kids they need most.

In the concluding words of the paper, “Effective action to reduce health disparities and protect children from direct and secondary harm from COVID-19 is a necessity of public and moral health.

Please note: S Hillis, et al. Covid-19-Associated Orphanhood and Caregiver Death in the United States. Pediatrics. DOI: 10.1542 / peds.2021-053760.



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