Oxford Study: COVID-19 Significant Cause of Death in US Children And Youth
Youth masked up as COVID-19 pandemic hit the world.

A new study found COVID-19 has emerged as a leading cause of death in children and young people in the US, ranking eighth overall between August 2021 and July 2022.

The Oxford University study determined that COVID-19 was the underlying cause of death for more than 940,000 people in the US, including over 1,300 deaths among children and young people up to 19 years of age.

Until now, the study concluded, it had been unclear how the burden of deaths from COVID-19 compared with other leading causes of deaths in this age group.

Using data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC), researchers found that infants aged less than a year were the most vulnerable with a mortality rate of four per 100,000. Deaths in children and infants were particularly high during the Delta and Omicron waves of COVID-19.

Among the studied group of children and young people, COVID-19 ranked first in deaths caused by infectious or respiratory diseases. In the category of disease-related causes of death, COVID-19 ranked fifth overall. Among all causes of death, it ranked eighth.

COVID-19 also was the underlying cause for 2% of deaths in children and youth in the US, putting it ahead of influenza and pneumonia as a factor in mortality. 

“These results demonstrate that while it’s rare for kids and teens to die in the US, COVID-19 is now the leading underlying cause of death from infectious disease for this age group,” said Dr Seth Flaxman, the study’s lead author.

“Many of the 82 million American children and young people were infected during the big Delta and Omicron waves,” he said, “and as a result, more than 1,300 children and young people have died from COVID-19 during the pandemic, most in the last two years.”

Explaining the seriousness of the issue, Dr Robbie M. Parks, a co-author of the study, said that the deaths in children and youths due to COVID-19 is higher than the deaths caused by a few other diseases before vaccines became available. 

“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,” said Parks

“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,” he said. “This demonstrates how seriously we need to take COVID-19 prevention and mitigation measures for the youngest age groups in the US and worldwide.”

Image Credits: Photo by Carlynn Alarid on Unsplash.

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