Black Children Disproportionately Affected by Parental Deaths from COVID-19

Black children have been disproportionately affected by parental deaths due to COVID-19, according to a newly published study.

Researchers reported in JAMA Pediatrics that Black children make up 14% of the pediatric population in the United States, but 20% of all children who have lost a parent to COVID-19.

Overall, between 37,300 and 43,000 children aged 0 to 17 years in the U.S. had lost at least one parent because to the disease as of February, Rachel Kidman, PhD, associate professor of family, population and preventive medicine at Stony Brook University, and colleagues reported.

For their study, Kidman and colleagues estimated deaths from COVID-19 that left at least one child bereaved using “prior research generating bereavement multipliers, which applies results from kinship networks for non-Hispanic white and non-Hispanic Black residents of the United States.” The estimates were produced “using demographic microsimulations, using the most widely used program for such purposes, SocSim.”

The model suggested that each COVID-19 death leaves 0.078 children parentally bereaved. As of February, the model estimated that 37,300 children had lost at least one parent because of COVID-19. Of this total, around 75% were adolescents, 20,600 were white and 7,600 were Black.

Using excess deaths, the authors estimated 43,000 children have lost a parent.

“For comparison, the attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, left 3,000 children without a parent,” the authors wrote.

“The establishment of a national child bereavement cohort could identify children who have lost parents, monitor them for early identification of emerging challenges, link them to locally delivered care, and form the basis for a longitudinal study of the long-term effects of mass parental bereavement during a uniquely challenging time of social isolation and economic uncertainty,” the authors wrote.