The US child and adolescent mortality rate skyrocketed in 2020 and 2021, a boost not fueled by deaths from covid-19, but by fatal injuries from firearms, drugs and car accidents, according to a study published this Monday in the academic journal JAMA.
The pandemic years produced a marked change in infant mortality trends, which had previously seen a “period of great progress,” according to the study authors. Pediatric deaths had been on the rise, but the most recent annual increases, of nearly 11% in 2020 and more than 8% in 2021, have been the largest in decades.
“Medicine and public health have made remarkable progress in lowering pediatric mortality rates, but the lives they have saved are now endangered by synthetic pathogens,” the authors wrote in the School of Medicine study. Medicine from Virginia Commonwealth and Washington Universities.
If deaths from covid-19 and injuries are excluded, infant mortality actually decreased.
Death rates from covid-19 doubled in children between 2021 and 2021, but this only explains about a fifth of the increase in the death rate in 2021, according to the study.
Instead, firearms “play a central role,” according to the authors, accounting for almost half of the increase in mortality in 2020.
“Current efforts to understand gun violence, overcome political hurdles, and implement sound gun policies are not moving as fast as child suicides and homicides require,” they wrote.