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March 13, 2023

The New Crisis of Increasing All-Cause Mortality in US Children and Adolescents

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Family Medicine and Population Health, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond
  • 2Department of Pediatrics, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine, Richmond
  • 3Departments of Pediatrics and Epidemiology, University of Washington, and Seattle Children’s Research Institute, Seattle
  • 4Editor, JAMA Network Open
JAMA. 2023;329(12):975-976. doi:10.1001/jama.2023.3517

Although life expectancy in industrialized countries has lengthened over the past century, increases in US life expectancy ceased after 2010, a trend attributed to rising mortality rates among individuals aged 25 to 64 years.1 Although midlife mortality rates increased over the past decade, mortality rates among children and older adults continued to decrease. The COVID-19 pandemic altered this trend and resulted in a sharp increase in mortality among older adults, an unsurprising outcome. However, pediatric mortality rates also increased, and COVID-19 contributed little to this surge. This increase in all-cause pediatric mortality has ominous implications. A nation that begins losing its most cherished population—its children—faces a crisis like no other.

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1 Comment for this article
Elsa Weber | Public Health, retired
Although I am a retired public health professional it still breaks my heart to see the death rate go up in children of all ages. We live in an age where misinformation and lack of access to health care is growing. Add to that the low quality of care, and understaffed and burnt-out medical personnel, and it seems to me the youngest among us are bearing the results of a system that is quickly falling apart. We are one of the richest countries in the world and yet our quality and outcomes are the lowest when compared to other rich industrial nations. We are the only one that blocks access to all of our citizens and have allowed the private sector to take control of the system. If we do not do something to change that soon, we will see the death rates increase in all age groups.