Tens of thousands of children in the U.S. have lost a parent to Covid-19, according to research published Thursday in Pediatrics — a devastating consequence of the coronavirus pandemic that experts say will have ramifications for years to come.
The research, which pulls from a wide range of data about births, deaths and household compositions, estimated that 129,630 children lost a primary caregiver to Covid-19.
Another 22,007, according to the new research, lost a secondary caregiver, such as a grandparent who was living in the home.
Even that may be an underestimate, said the study’s lead author, Susan Hillis, a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Covid-19 Response Team. The study included data only from April 2020 through the end of June 2021 — just as the supercontagious delta variant was beginning to take hold.
“Once a child loses a parent or caregiver, they’re going to need help until they’re at least 18 to 24,” Hillis said. “It will be a problem that lasts for many years.”