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CDC: 74% of children who died from SARS-CoV-2 are Hispanic, Black :

September 16, 2020

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At least 121 children and young adults have died from illness linked to SARS-CoV-2, and these deaths disproportionately affected minorities and youths with underlying medical conditions.

“Although infants, children and adolescents are more likely to have milder COVID-19 illness than are adults, complications … do occur in these populations,” authors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state health departments wrote in a new Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. “Persons infected with or exposed to SARS-CoV-2 should be followed closely so that clinical deterioration can be detected early.”

Their analysis looks at deaths linked to SARS-CoV-2 in people under 21 years of age from Feb. 12 to July 31. During that time, there were 391,814 confirmed or probable cases of COVID-19 or multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) in this age group. Fifteen of the 121 deaths met the criteria for MIS-C, a rare condition linked to COVID-19.

The report shows 63% of those who died were male. About 70% were ages 10-20 years, with many of the deaths in this age range among 18- to 20-year-olds. About 20% of the deaths were among children ages 1-9 years and 10% were infants.

Hispanic youths made up 45% of the deaths followed by Black (29%) and White youths (17%). Roughly 78% of those who died were Hispanic, Black, American Indian or Alaska Native even though they make up just 41% of the population in this age group.

Authors of the report said numerous factors could impact the disparity, including these groups being overrepresented among people unable to work from home. They also said these children may be impacted by crowded living conditions, food insecurity, racial discrimination and difficulty seeking care.

Roughly 75% of the children and young adults who died had at least one underlying medical condition, and 45% had two or more, according to the report. Chronic lung disease, obesity, neurologic/developmental conditions, and cardiovascular conditions were the most common.

About 65% of deaths occurred after hospital admission, 19% were in an emergency department and 13% at home, according to the report.

Authors noted deaths may be undercounted due to a variety of factors, including a lack of data from some jurisdictions and incomplete testing. In addition, they pointed out many schools and child care providers were closed during the study period and said pediatric cases and deaths should be tracked closely as they re-open.

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