SIDS Decrease During COVID Lockdown Attributed to Less Vaccination

A new paper from Health Choice examines the death rate of people through the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. It shows that while overall death peaked for the country at 137 percent of expected mortality (contrary to early data), childhood death has gone down.

This is partly due to the low case fatality rate of COVID-19 in children as well as the reduction of driving that accompanied the lockdowns.

The authors make another connection though. They say that the reduction in childhood well visits during the lockdown and in particular a reduction in vaccination has led to a reduction in one of the leading causes of childhood death in the Unites States: Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS):

When  infants  die,  the  cause  is  frequently some  form  of  congenital  condition  or  birth  defect.  Sadly, accidents  and  homicides  are  frequent  causes  as  well. There  are  however,  frequent  cases  in  which  previously healthy  infants  die  unexpectedly.  These  deaths  are usually  classified  as  “Sudden  Infant  Death  Syndrome”  or SIDS.   According  to  the  CDC,  SIDS  deaths  are  one  of  the two  largest  causes  of  death  among  infants  aged  1  month to  1  year.  (7) 

We have no specific  data  on  the  trend  in  SIDS  deaths during  the  pandemic.  We  have,  however,  heard anecdotal  reports  from  emergency  room  (ER)  doctors suggesting  some  have  observed  a  decline  in  SIDS.  One doctor  who  says  he  might  see  3  cases  of  SIDS  in  a  typical week  has  seen  zero  cases  since  the  pandemic  and  associated  lockdowns  began. 

What has  changed  during  this  period  that  might  have  such  an  effect?  Are  infant  deaths  not  being recorded?  Are  parents  taking  better  care  of  their  families  while  working  remotely  and  their  children  are not  going  to  school?  There  are  many  possible  hypotheses  about  the  infant  death  decline. 

One  very  clear  change  that  has  received  publicity  is  that  public  health  officials  are  bemoaning  the  sharp decline  in  infant  vaccinations  as  parents  are  not  taking  their  infants  into  pediatric  offices  for  their  regular well‐baby  checks.  In  the  May  15  issue  of  the  CDC  Morbidity  and  Mortality  Weekly  Report  (MMWR),  a group  of  authors  from  the  CDC  and  Kaiser  Permanente  reported  a  sharp  decline  in  provider  orders  for vaccines  as  well  as  a  decline  in  pediatric  vaccine  doses  administered.  (8)  These  declines  began  in  early march,  around  the  time  infant  deaths  began  declining.