Effect Modification of Racial Differences in Pediatric COVID-19 Inpatient Admissions in a Large Healthcare Database

Dave Watson, Alicen Spaulding, Laura Norton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has been more severe in racial and ethnic minorities relative to non-Hispanic White populations. Here, we investigate how these disparities vary across effect modifiers in a pediatric population. Methods: Using the TriNetX Dataworks Network from April 2020 to September 2021, we compared inpatient rates between non-Hispanic Black and non-Hispanic White patients among pediatric COVID-19 cases. Following propensity score matching, comparisons were performed within subgroups of 4 potential effect modifiers: age group (0-2, 3-5, 6-11 and 12-18 years), presence of complex comorbidities, quarter of the year (from 2020 Q2 to 2021 Q3) and geographic regions of the United States. Results: The cohort included 47,487 COVID-19 cases, of which 13,130 were Black patients. Among most subgroups of effect modifiers, inpatient rates were higher among the Black patients. The largest variation in disparities was observed across age groups and the presence of complex comorbidities. Twelve to 18 years old Black children had a 1.7% point [confidence interval (CI): 0.8-2.4] higher inpatient rate than the matched White children, whereas 0-2 years old Black children had a 2.5% point (CI: 0.9-4.1) lower rate than the matched White children. Among children with complex comorbidities, inpatient rates for Black children was 6.2 (CI: 3.4-8.9) percentage points higher than the White children; however, among kids without complex comorbidities, inpatient rates were comparable. Conclusions: Among pediatric patients experiencing COVID-19, higher inpatient rates for Black compared with White patients were observed among older children and those with complex comorbidities. These findings can spur discussions of potential root causes of these disparities, including structural racism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)594-600
Number of pages7
JournalPediatric Infectious Disease Journal
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by the Merck Investigator Studies Program.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved.


  • children
  • coronavirus
  • health disparities
  • health inquities
  • hospitalization

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article


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