HealthDay News — An estimated 37,300 to 43,000 children have lost a parent to COVID-19, according to a research letter published online in JAMA Pediatrics.

Rachel Kidman, PhD, from Stony Brook University in New York, and colleagues estimated the expected number of affected children for each COVID-19 death and then used the parental bereavement multiplier to estimate the total scope of parental bereavement based on various scenarios of COVID-19 casualty and excess death figures.

The model suggests that each COVID-19 death leaves 0.078 children aged 0 to 17 parentally bereaved — a 17.5% to 20.2% increase in parental bereavement absent COVID-19. Based on the bereavement multiplier, as of February 2021, 37,300 children aged 0 to 17 years had lost at least 1parent due to COVID-19. Three-quarters of children who lost a parent were adolescents.

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Black children are disproportionately affected by loss of a parent, comprising only 14% of the US child population but 20% of those losing a parent to COVID-19. When using excess death data, an estimated 43,000 children have lost a parent. If the United States relied upon a natural herd immunity strategy that results in 1.5 million deaths, there would be 116,900 parentally bereaved children.

“The establishment of a national child bereavement cohort could identify children who have lost parents, monitor them for early identification of emerging challenges, link them to locally delivered care, and form the basis for a longitudinal study of the long-term effects of mass parental bereavement during a uniquely challenging time of social isolation and economic uncertainty,” the authors wrote.

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