The medical sector has made substantial progress across sectors, according to details published in a recent editorial from the American Medical Association. Yet, there was an increase of around 20% in child deaths during the pandemic.
The data is quite disappointing despite the medical advances in the recent past. For example, children had more access to firearms and painkillers during the pandemic as their mental health problems worsened. Experts say this would have led to a significant increase in the child death rate.
“For decades, the overall death rate among Americans 19 and younger have been steadily decreasing because of breakthroughs in prevention and treatment for conditions like premature births, pediatric cancer, and congenital disabilities,” said Dr. Steven Woolf, director emeritus Center on Society and Health, Virginia Commonwealth University.
Fatalities among younger children, those aged 1 to 9, also went up by 8.4% in 2021, confirms the report. However, the death rate for infants was less.
“This is not a surprise. Based on my research in this field for over 20 years, I’ve noticed significant changes in pediatric mortality rates, particularly caused by suicide, violence, and opioid abuse in the past five to 10 years. In addition, the pandemic may have further impeded trauma care and emergency services as the health care system was overwhelmed by COVID-19 patients,” says Dr. Henry Xiang, professor at the Center for Pediatric Trauma Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.