Study quantifies how many children in the U.S. have lost a parent during Covid-19 pandemic

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Study quantifies how many children in the U.S. have lost a parent during Covid-19 pandemic

Post by trader32176 »

Study quantifies how many children in the U.S. have lost a parent during Covid-19 pandemic

4/6/21 ... demic.aspx

A letter published in JAMA Pediatrics, co-authored by Rachel Kidman, PhD, of the Program in Public Health at Stony Brook University, presents a statistical model showing that around 40,000 children (est. between 37,000 and 43,000) had lost a parent due to the Covid-19 pandemic by February 2021. This amounts to an average of one child losing a parent for every 13 Covid-19 deaths.

Children face immense challenges in the wake of the pandemic. While there have been anecdotal reports of children losing parents, this is the first study to estimate the increase in orphan rates nationwide. The authors also published an Op Ed in the Washington Post to bring attention to the tens of thousands of children orphaned by Covid-19 who need immediate support.

" The consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic for children – from heightened physical violence to food insecurity – will leave a mark on this generation. We show that children are also increasingly experiencing parental death, which can have severe and lasting consequences."

- Dr. Rachel Kidman, Associate Professor of Family, Population and Preventive Medicine, Renaissance School of Medicine and Program of Public Health

The study combined data on Covid-19 mortality and simulated data on kinship networks to quantify how many children, ages zero to 17 years, in the U.S. have lost a parent over the course of the pandemic. They found that between 37,000 and 43,000 more children had lost a parent by February – an 18 to 20 percent increase in orphaning compared to a typical year (i.e., a year without Covid-19).

Dr. Kidman and her co-authors point out that the burden will increase as the death toll from Covid-19 continues to mount. Their data also shows that Black children are disproportionally affected: they comprise 14 percent of the children in the U.S. but 20 percent of those losing a parent to Covid-19, reflecting underlying inequalities in mortality.

In the JAMA Pediatrics letter, the authors write, "Sweeping national reforms are needed to address the health, educational and economic fallout affecting children. Parentally bereaved children will also need targeted support to help with grief, particularly during this period of heightened social isolation."

Dr. Kidman stresses that the country needs to mobilize resources now, as well as sustain efforts to monitor this affected and vulnerable population of children into the future. She states that "Right now, these children need schools to be open so they can socialize with friend and access support. They need interventions that can help them deal with their grief and can prevent more severe mental health consequences down the road. Their families need economic relief. There may also be unique challenges that emerge in the future - we don't know the impact of experiencing loss and grief during such an acute national crisis - and we have to be prepared to respond with flexibility and compassionate programming."

Dr. Kidman's co-authors include Rachel Margolis of the University of Western Ontario in Canada, Emily Smith-Greenaway of the University of Southern California, and Ashton Verdery of The Pennsylvania State University.


Stony Brook University

Journal reference:

Kidman, R., et al. (2021) Estimates and Projections of COVID-19 and Parental Death in the US. JAMA Pediatrics.
Posts: 2292
Joined: Fri Jun 26, 2020 5:22 am

Re: Study quantifies how many children in the U.S. have lost a parent during Covid-19 pandemic

Post by trader32176 »

2,600 Florida kids lost a parent to the coronavirus, study estimates

The figure has profound societal implications for the state, experts say

4/6/21 ... estimates/

TALLAHASSEE — When state Rep. Anna Eskamani was 13, she held the hand of her mother, Nasrin, while she died of cancer.

A decade and a half later, Eskamani knows that an untold number of Florida children never got to do the same as their parent died of the coronavirus.

“So many of these cases were sudden, unexpected,” said Eskamani, D-Orlando. “There’s not even an opportunity to say goodbye.”

A study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association Pediatrics attempts to estimate how many children across the country lost a parent to the coronavirus. Researchers approximated that as of February, between 37,300 and 43,000 kids suffered such a loss. About three-quarters of those kids were adolescents. (By way of comparison, the study notes that about 3,000 children lost a parent to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.)

If the researchers’ methods are roughly applied to Florida, it would mean at least about 2,600 Florida children lost a parent to the pandemic.

That figure has profound societal implications for the state, said Rachel Kidman, one of the paper’s authors. For more than a decade, the Stony Brook University professor has studied the effects of the HIV/AIDS crisis on kids in sub-Saharan Africa. Part of her work focuses on what happens to a society when millions of kids lose a parent.

Generally, parental loss is correlated with a host of negative social consequences for kids: economic instability, food insecurity and mental health issues, experts say. But the coronavirus pandemic poses unique challenges to policymakers hoping to ease the burden of grief.

“Families are largely grieving alone,” Kidman said. “We don’t have the social support and the day-to-day routines that we used to have.”

That’s why it’s so important to strengthen support systems of grieving kids, experts say. In part, that means allowing kids to be as social as is safely possible.

Tampa’s Ivan Cardenas, 15, has been more reserved since he lost his father to the virus in June, Ivan’s sister, Jhoana says. Alfonso Cardenas, their father, was just 55 years old when he passed.

But the fact that Ivan can go to school in person — a policy championed by Gov. Ron DeSantis during the pandemic — has helped him work through their family’s profound loss.

“If he were learning online, he would be constantly at home not having much to do,” said Jhoana Cardenas, 21. “Whereas at school, he can see other people and interact with other people.”

It’s also important to make sure grieving kids are provided for, Kidman said. She lauded Congressional lawmakers for including a sweeping child tax credit in the recent Democrat-backed coronavirus stimulus bill. Under that policy, which President Joe Biden signed into law March 11, all parents with kids younger than 18 will get at least a $3,000-per-child tax credit.

That policy is particularly important, Kidman noted, because of the way economically disadvantaged communities of color have disproportionately borne the brunt of the pandemic. Nationally, children of color were more likely to have lost a parent to the virus, Kidman’s study found. (It’s unclear if this has been true in Florida.)

But it won’t just be up to the government to care for Florida’s grieving children. Kristopher Kaliebe, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of South Florida, said we all have a role to play. As the state reopens, asking a neighbor how they’re doing could go a long way, he said.

After she lost her mother, Eskamani remembers relying on support systems in and out of the home. But she said it’s still up to lawmakers to start the dialogue about helping Florida deal with its staggering loss.

“You’re not going to bring that person back but we are going to be able to play an intentional role,” Eskamani said. “There hasn’t been enough conversation about the emotional toll of losing a loved one.”
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