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Estimates and Projections of COVID-19 and Parental Death in the US

Educational Objective
To identify the key insights or developments described in this article
1 Credit CME

The scale of COVID-19 mortality in the United States, including among prime-age adults, merits efforts to continuously track how many children are affected by parental death. Children who lose a parent are at elevated risk of traumatic grief, depression, poor educational outcomes, and unintentional death or suicide, and these consequences can persist into adulthood.1 Sudden parental death, such as that occurring owing to COVID-19, can be particularly traumatizing for children and leave families ill prepared to navigate its consequences. Moreover, COVID-19 losses are occurring at a time of social isolation, institutional strain, and economic hardship, potentially leaving bereaved children without the supports they need.

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Article Information

Corresponding Author: Rachel Kidman, PhD, Stony Brook University, 101 Nicolls Rd, Stony Brook, NY 11794 (rachel.kidman@stonybrook.edu).

Accepted for Publication: January 21, 2021.

Published Online: April 5, 2021. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.0161

Author Contributions: Dr Verdery had full access to all of the data in the study and takes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.

Concept and design: Kidman, Margolis, Verdery.

Acquisition, analysis, or interpretation of data: All authors.

Drafting of the manuscript: Kidman, Verdery.

Critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content: All authors.

Statistical analysis: Verdery.

Obtained funding: Verdery.

Administrative, technical, or material support: Kidman.

Supervision: Verdery.

Conflict of Interest Disclosures: Dr Verdery reported grants from the National Institute on Aging and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development during the conduct of the study. No other disclosures were reported.

References
1.
Bergman  A-S , Axberg  U , Hanson  E .  When a parent dies: a systematic review of the effects of support programs for parentally bereaved children and their caregivers.   BMC Palliat Care. 2017;16(1):39. doi:10.1186/s12904-017-0223-yPubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
2.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. COVID-19 death data and resources. Accessed March 1, 2021. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/covid19/mortality-overview.htm
3.
Verdery  AM , Smith-Greenaway  E , Margolis  R , Daw  J .  Tracking the reach of COVID-19 kin loss with a bereavement multiplier applied to the United States.   Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020;117(30):17695-17701. doi:10.1073/pnas.2007476117PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
4.
Fontanet  A , Cauchemez  S .  COVID-19 herd immunity: where are we?   Nat Rev Immunol. 2020;20(10):583-584. doi:10.1038/s41577-020-00451-5PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
5.
Chemtob  CM , Conroy  DL , Hochauser  CJ ,  et al.  Children who lost a parent as a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001: registry construction and population description.   Death Stud. 2007;31(1):87-100. doi:10.1080/07481180600995263PubMedGoogle ScholarCrossref
6.
US Census Bureau. 2019 Monthly national population estimates by age, sex, race, hispanic origin, and population universe for the United States: April 1, 2010 to December 1, 2020 (NC-EST2019-ALLDATA). Accessed November 11, 2020. https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/popest/datasets/2010-2019/national/asrh/nc-est2019-alldata-r-file22.csv
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