A study recently published in The Lancet estimates more than 1.5 million children worldwide have lost at least one parent, custodial grandparent, or grandparent who lived with them after death related to COVID-19 during the first 14 months of the pandemic.
Among many overlooked consequences of the pandemic is this increase in orphanhood, and the study emphasized the importance of extending support to affected children as a key part of pandemic response.
“Studies like this play a crucial role in illuminating the COVID-19 pandemic’s long-lasting consequences for families and the future mental health and wellbeing of children across the globe,” said NIDA Director Nora D. Volkow, M.D. “Though the trauma a child experiences after the loss of a parent or caregiver can be devastating, there are evidence-based interventions that can prevent further adverse consequences, such as substance use, and we must ensure that children have access to these interventions.”
The study utilized COVID-19 mortality data for the 21 countries that accounted for 77% of COVID-19 deaths in 202 and early this year. They estimate that over 1.1 million children lost a parent or custodial grandparent to the virus, with 1.04 million losing a mother, father, or both – although most children lost one, not both parents.
The countries with the highest numbers of children who lost primary caregivers (parents or custodial grandparents) included the United States, as well as India, Brazil, and Mexico.
Up to five times as many children were found to have lost their father rather than their mother.
SOURCE: NIDA Press Office