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COVID-19 is a leading cause of death among children, but is still rare

Fifth-graders wearing face masks sit at proper social distancing during a music class at the Milton Elementary School in Rye, N.Y., May 18, 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic that shuttered classrooms set back learning in some U.S. school systems by more than a year, with children in high-poverty areas affected the most, according to data shared with The Associated Press.
Mary Altaffer
/
AP
Fifth-graders wearing face masks sit at proper social distancing during a music class at the Milton Elementary School in Rye, N.Y., May 18, 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic that shuttered classrooms set back learning in some U.S. school systems by more than a year, with children in high-poverty areas affected the most, according to data shared with The Associated Press.

COVID-19 was the eighth leading cause of death among children in recent months, according to a study published Monday.

In a yearlong period from August 2021 to July 2022, 821 children ages 0 to 19 died from COVID-19 at a rate of 1 per 100,000. Children's deaths of any kind are rare, researchers noted.

COVID-19 ranked fifth in non-disease-related deaths and first in infectious or respiratory illness deaths, overtaking the flu and pneumonia.

Before the pandemic, in 2019, the leading causes of death among children were perinatal conditions, unintentional injuries, birth defects, assault, suicide, cancerous tumors, heart disease and influenza and pneumonia.

The time period researchers analyzed coincided with the rise of Delta and Omicron COVID-19 cases. They found that studying other 12-month periods during the pandemic did not change the results.

Researchers noted their results were limited by the underreporting of COVID-19 cases, and the exclusion of deaths where COVID-19 could have been a contributing or amplifying factor in tandem with other conditions, such as influenza.

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Ayana Archie
[Copyright 2024 NPR]