Child Mortality in England During the COVID-19 pandemic

David Odd, Sylvia Stoianova, Tom Williams, Vicky Sleap, Peter Blair, Peter Fleming, Ingrid Wolfe, Karen Luyt

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Abstract

Objectives Using the National Child Mortality Database (NCMD), this work aims to investigate and quantify the characteristics of children dying of COVID-19, and to identify any changes in rate of childhood mortality during the pandemic. Design We compared the characteristics of the children who died in 2020, split by SARS-CoV-2 status. A negative binomial regression model was used to compare mortality rates in lockdown (23 March–28 June), with those children who died in the preceding period (6 January–22 March), as well as a comparable period in 2019. Setting England. Participants Children (0–17 years). Main outcome measures Characteristics and number of the children who died in 2020, split by SARS-CoV-2 status. Results 1550 deaths of children between 6th of January and 28 June 2020 were notified to the NCMD; 437 of the deaths were linked to SARS-CoV-2 virology records, 25 (5.7%) had a positive PCR result. PCR-positive children were less likely to be white (37.5% vs 69.4%, p=0.003) and were older (12.2 vs 0.7 years, p<0.0006) compared with child deaths without evidence of the virus. All-cause mortality rates were similar during lockdown compared with both the period before lockdown in 2020 (rate ratio (RR) 0.93 (0.84 to 1.02)) and a similar period in 2019 (RR 1.02 (0.92 to 1.13)). Conclusions There is little to suggest that there has been excess mortality during the period of lockdown. The apparent higher frequency of SARS-CoV-2-positive tests among children from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups is consistent with findings in adults. Ongoing surveillance is essential as the pandemic continues.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalArchives of Disease in Childhood
Early online date21 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Jun 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Author(s) (or their employer(s)) 2021. Re-use permitted under CC BY-NC. No commercial re-use. See rights and permissions. Published by BMJ.

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