(HealthDay News) — More than 140,000 children in the United States experienced the COVID-19-related death of a parent or grandparent caregiver from April 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021, with the risk for such loss higher among children of racial and ethnic minorities, according to a study published online Oct. 7 in Pediatrics.
Susan D. Hillis, Ph.D., from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, and colleagues used fertility and excess and COVID-19 mortality data to quantify COVID-19-associated caregiver loss and orphanhood in the United States and each state. The burden and rates of COVID-19-associated orphanhood and deaths of custodial and co-residing grandparents were assessed overall and by race/ethnicity.
The researchers found that more than 140,000 children in the United States experienced the death of a parent or grandparent caregiver from April 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021. Compared with non-Hispanic White children, the risk for such loss was 1.1 to 4.5 times higher among children of racial and ethnic minorities. The burden of COVID-19-associated death of parents and caregivers was highest in Southern border states for Hispanic children, Southeastern states for Black children, and states with tribal areas for American Indian/Alaska Native populations.
“The magnitude of COVID-19-associated parent and caregiver death suggests effective responses should combine equitable access to vaccines with evidence-based programs for bereaved children, focusing on areas with greatest disparities,” the authors write.