In a recent analysis from the University of Oxford published on the Imperial College of London's website, COVID-19 has been found to be a leading cause of death in children and young people in the U.S.
The research found that COVID-19 is currently the 8th leading cause of death among children in the U.S. In total, the virus accounted for around 1300 deaths among children and youth 0-19 years of age.
While we've known COVID-19 to have had a significant impact on adults, as it now accounts for over 940,000 deaths in the U.S., these new findings highlight the disease's impact on the younger population.
The study used data collected between the 1st of August 2021 and the 31st of July 2022. Overall, COVID-19 was the 8th leading cause of death for those under 19 years old and the 5th leading disease-related cause of death. It was also the leading cause of death by respiratory viruses.
Within the 0-19 age group, the older age groups saw more of an impact from COVID-related deaths. For example, children under 4 saw COVID as the 7th leading cause of death, while the virus became the fifth leading cause of death for 15-19-year-olds.
Compared to other age groups, the overall risk of death for youth and children was substantially lower. However, the statistics also show the importance of continued protection and distancing measures to keep not only younger members of society safe but everyone.
One particular quote from the article stands out: "If you look at infectious diseases in children in the US historically, in the period before vaccines became available, hepatitis A, rotavirus, rubella, and measles were all major causes of death. But when we compared those diseases to COVID-19, we found that COVID-19 caused substantially more deaths in children and young people than those other diseases did before vaccines became available; this demonstrates how seriously we need to take COVID-19 prevention and mitigation measures for the youngest age groups in the US and worldwide." (Professor Robbie Parks of Columbia University).
Masking is still the best way we can protect both ourselves and our children when out and about. While masks aren't perfect (we don't like wearing them either!), they're the best method we currently have to keep our younger family members safe from COVID-19 and other respiratory illnesses.