Hispanic children eight times more likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19, study says

Edward Helmore in New York
·2-min read
<span>Photograph: Eric Gay/AP</span>
Photograph: Eric Gay/AP

Hispanic and black children are far more likely to be hospitalized with Covid-19 than white children, a new study published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found.

While the study acknowledged that most pediatric incidents of Covid-19 are asymptomatic or mild, and hospitalization rates among children of all ethnicities remain low, it found that rates of hospitalization among Hispanic children were around eight times higher than for white children. Black children were hospitalized at rates five times higher those for white children.

The report – which was released on Friday – focused on data from 14 states. It found that 42% of children studied had one or more underlying medical conditions. Of those, obesity was found to be the most prevalent, a condition that affects almost one in five US children and is more common in black and Hispanic populations.

“Reasons for disparities in Covid-19-associated hospitalization rates by race and ethnicity are not fully understood,” the authors of the study wrote, and called for greater understanding of social forces that affect health.

“Continued tracking of Sars-CoV-2 infections among children is important to characterize morbidity and mortality,” it added. “Reinforcement of prevention efforts is essential in congregate settings that serve children, including childcare centers and schools.”

But the report also noted that hospitalization rates related to Covid-19 for children across all ethnicities remains low (8 per 100,000 population) compared with that among adults (164.5 per 100,000). Those under age two had the highest pediatric hospitalization rate.

The report is published as state authorities are finalizing plans for schools to reopen across the country. The White House is pushing for a full reopening of the system, while teachers unions and some disease experts are warning that a hasty reopen could lead to a spike in new infections.

A second CDC report found that a rare inflammatory syndrome in children – known as MIS-C – and thought to be triggered by an over-response of the immune system, was also found to have a higher prevalence among Hispanic children.

About 40% of the 570 cases occurred in children identified as Hispanic, CDC analysis showed, while 33% of the children affected were black.

Related: Covid-19: lack of diversity threatens to undermine vaccine trials, experts warn

In May, the agency issued a warning and asked doctors to report cases meeting the definition of the condition in patients under 18. Many of those diagnosed experienced complications including cardiac dysfunction (40.6%), shock (35.4%), coronary artery dilatation or aneurysm (18.6%) and acute kidney injury (18.4%).

“Long-standing inequities in the social determinants of health, such as housing, economic instability, insurance status, and work circumstances of patients and their family members have systematically placed social, racial, and ethnic minority populations at higher risk for Covid-19 and more severe illness, possibly including MIS-C,” the study concluded.