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.