Child deaths have risen by a tenth to a 15-year high, fueled by pandemic suicides, drug overdoses and homicides.
The death rate for those aged 1 to 19 rose 10.7 percent between 2019 and 2020, and rose another 8.3 percent the following year, according to a new study that analyzed CDC numbers.
It is the highest increase in two consecutive years in the 50 years that the government has published such figures publicly, it said Paper published in March in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
This astounding drop in child mortality was not caused by COVID but by rising violence, self-harm and substance abuse – with guns being the leading cause of death.
The pandemic – which has strained mental health services and isolating children at home – has “added fuel to the fire” that has been burning among America’s youth for at least a decade, the study warned.
The death rate for those aged 1 to 19 rose 10.7 percent between 2019 and 2020, and rose another 8.3 percent the following year, according to a new study that analyzed CDC numbers
The COVID fatality rate for those aged 1 to 19 was 0.24 deaths per 100,000 in 2020 – but this is dwarfed by the increase in deaths from injuries, which was 12 times higher at 2.80 deaths per 100,000
The COVID fatality rate for those aged 1 to 19 was 0.24 deaths per 100,000 in 2020 – but this was dwarfed by the rise in deaths from injuries, which was 12 times higher at 2.80 deaths per 100,000.
“I’ve never experienced that in my career,” said lead author Steven Woolf, MD, director emeritus of the Center on Society and Health at Virginia Commonwealth University.
“For decades, the all-cause mortality rate among children in the United States has steadily decreased thanks to breakthroughs in the prevention and treatment of diseases such as preterm birth, childhood cancer and birth defects.”
“We are now seeing a dramatic reversal of this trend, meaning our children are now less likely to reach adulthood.” This is a red flashing light. “We must understand the causes and address them immediately to protect our children.”
The number of suicides among children aged 10 to 19 began to increase in 2007, and homicide rates in this age group began to increase in 2013.
Since then, the death rate from suicide has increased by 70 percent and the homicide rate by a third.
Woolf said that “improved access to firearms and worsening mental health crisis in children and adolescents are likely contributing to both trends.”
During the pandemic, the demand for mental health support far exceeded supply, leaving young patients particularly vulnerable. Children as young as eight went to the doctor with the idea of suicide.
Lois Lee, a pediatric emergency room physician at Boston Children’s Hospital and chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Injury, Violence and Poison Prevention, shared The Wall Street Journal: “We are seeing younger and younger patients coming to us with mental health crises, and even 8-10 year olds with suicidal thoughts.”
Exacerbated by the fentanyl crisis, opioid abuse has been on the rise, and just prior to the pandemic, overdose rates in children ages 10 to 19 began to rise.
“While the pandemic didn’t set these trends in motion, it may have added fuel to the fire,” argues Woolf.
Injury mortality among those aged 10 to 19 increased by 23 percent between 2019 and 2020.
The number of children between the ages of 10 and 19 who attempted suicide by poisoning increased by more than 70 percent in 2021 compared to pre-pandemic numbers
During the COVID pandemic, many more children began attempting suicide by poisoning. The number of attempts increased by about 30 percent, reports the CDC
Much of this increase was due to homicides, which increased by 39 percent, and drug overdose deaths, which increased by 114 percent.
In younger children, ages 1 to 9, injuries explained two-thirds of the increase in mortality in 2021.
Firearms “are central to this crisis,” Woolf explained. Guns are the leading cause of death among adolescents aged 1 to 19 and were responsible for almost half of the increase in all-cause mortality in 2020.
“Current efforts to understand gun violence, break political deadlock, and establish sane gun policies are not advancing at the pace that child suicide and homicide require,” Woolf wrote.
He added: “Medicine and public health have made remarkable strides in reducing child mortality, but the lives they saved are now threatened by man-made pathogens.”
“Bullets, drugs and cars are now causing so many deaths among young people that the overall death rate is skyrocketing – the largest increase of its kind in recent memory.”
“Without bold action to reverse the trend, children could be at greater risk of not reaching adulthood.”