There was the good news from before the pandemic: the accidental death rate had come way, way down. That was mostly due to improved traffic safety. (Not reduced drug ODs, alas)
In the pandemic, both increased motor vehicle deaths and drug overdoses has pushed up the accidental death rate for teens to increase to levels seen a decade ago.
But there was a bad pre-pandemic trend: suicide rates had increased from 2007 to 2018 — increasing a total of 120% over that period. That was hideous.
It seemed to have reversed in 2019, and come down during the pandemic. The suicide trends in the pandemic really made no sense to anybody, but perhaps the increased drug ODs were actually suicides.
Homicides didn’t have a steady trend before the pandemic, but has definitely had a bad trend during the pandemic. Homicide death rates for teens increased over 50% from 2019 to 2021.
One observation: suicide and homicide death rates used to be about the same for teens in the early 2000s, and then with the bad suicide trend, suicide ranked higher. Even with the increase in homicide rates, suicide still ranks higher.
In addition, drug overdose and poisoning increased by 83.6% from 2019 to 2020 among children and adolescents, becoming the third leading cause of death in that age group. This change is largely explained by the 110.6% increase in unintentional poisonings from 2019 to 2020. The rates for other leading causes of death have remained relatively stable since the previous analysis, which suggests that changes in mortality trends among children and adolescents during the early Covid-19 pandemic were specific to firearm-related injuries and drug poisoning; Covid-19 itself resulted in 0.2 deaths per 100,000 children and adolescents in 2020.1
Although the new data are consistent with other evidence that firearm violence has increased during the Covid-19 pandemic,5 the reasons for the increase are unclear, and it cannot be assumed that firearm-related mortality will later revert to prepandemic levels. Regardless, the increasing firearm-related mortality reflects a longer-term trend and shows that we continue to fail to protect our youth from a preventable cause of death. Generational investments are being made in the prevention of firearm violence, including new funding opportunities from the CDC and the National Institutes of Health, and funding for the prevention of community violence has been proposed in federal infrastructure legislation. This funding momentum must be maintained.
Jason E. Goldstick, Ph.D. Rebecca M. Cunningham, M.D. Patrick M. Carter, M.D. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
ON SEPTEMBER 13TH pupils in New York City, America’s biggest school district, will make a full return to classrooms for the first time since the start of the pandemic. That will be a relief for many parents. But it will also bring fear. In America, until recently adults suffered the highest infection rates; today the virus is spreading fastest among young people (see chart). Cases in children are surging, accounting for more than a quarter of total infections in the country in the week ending September 2nd.
Compared with other school districts, New York City is something of a straggler. Pupils in Tuloso-Midway School District in Texas have been back at their desks since the middle of July. Children in Los Angeles, the country’s second-largest school district, began their studies four weeks ago. Parents in New York City will doubtless be wondering whether and how the return to school elsewhere has contributed to the recent spike in cases among young people.
A poverty-fighting measure included in the COVID-19 relief bill passed this year will deliver monthly payments to households including 88% of children in the United States, starting in July, Biden administration officials said on Monday.
The Democratic-backed American Rescue Plan, signed into law by President Joe Biden in March as a response to the coronavirus pandemic, expanded a tax credit available to most parents.
Those people will get up to $3,000 per child, or $3,600 for each child under the age of 6, in 2021, subject to income restrictions. The benefit will reach 39 million households, many automatically and by direct deposit every month, starting on July 15.
In a key step toward ending the coronavirus pandemic, kids as young as 6 years old will be included in the clinical trial of a COVID-19 vaccine. The University of Oxford has launched a new study to assess the safety and effectiveness of its vaccine with AstraZeneca in children for the first time.
In a new statement, the university says the trial will assess immune response in kids ages 6 to 17, an age group hit hard by school closures due to the pandemic. Around 300 volunteers are enrolled, expected to get their first inoculations this month.
In the single-blind, randomized study, up to 240 participants will receive the COVID vaccine, while the control group will receive a meningitis vaccine, which is safe for children and produces a similar reaction.
While much of the world is engaged in a frantic scramble to get vaccinated against covid-19, there’s one group noticeably absent from the queues of people at vaccine clinics: children.
The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is still approved for use only in those aged 16 years or older, and the Moderna vaccine is only for adults. Both are now in trials for younger age groups, and results are expected by the summer. The Oxford-AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are also due to start trials in children soon. But in a world where most vaccines are given to children under two, why is it that during a global pandemic, children are being left behind? And what does it mean for how the pandemic will unfold in adults?
One reason children are not yet priorities for vaccination is that they are much less affected by SARS-CoV-2 infection than adults. Children make up nearly 13% of all cases reported in the United States so far, but less than 3% of all reported hospitalizations and less than 0.21% of all covid-19 deaths. When they have symptoms, they are similar to adults’—cough, fever, sore throat, and runny nose—but less severe.
The number of children’s visits to hospital emergency rooms for mental health treatment has increased by 24-31 percent since the start of the pandemic, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).