Association between Preferred Language and Risk of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Infection in Children in the United States

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  • 1 Division of Infectious Diseases, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
  • | 2 Division of General Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
  • | 3 Division of Neonatology, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
  • | 4 Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
  • | 5 PolicyLab, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania;
  • | 6 Department of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Black, Hispanic, and other individuals of color, although data on the effect of a person’s language on SARS-CoV-2 infection are limited. Considering the barriers suffered by immigrants and non-English-speaking families, we tested whether children with a preferred language other than English was associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Children from families with a preferred language other than English had a higher predicted probability of SARS-CoV-2 test positivity (adjusted odds ratio, 3.76; 95% CI, 2.07–6.67) during the first wave of the pandemic. This discrepancy continued into the second wave (adjusted odds ratio, 1.64; 95% CI, 1.10–2.41), although the difference compared with families who prefer to speak English decreased over time. These findings suggest that children from non-English-speaking families are at increased risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection, and efforts to reverse systemic inequities causing this increased risk are needed.

Author Notes

Address correspondence to William R. Otto, Division of Infectious Diseases, Children’s Hospital of Philidelphia, 3615 Civic Center Blvd., Rm. 1202, Philadelphia, PA 19146. E-mail: ottow@chop.edu

Authors’ addresses: William R. Otto, Division of Infectious Diseases, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, E-mail: ottow@chop.edu. Robert W. Grundmeier, Division of General Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, and Department of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, E-mail: grundmeier@chop.edu. Diana Montoya-Williams, Division of Neonatology, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, PolicyLab, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, and Department of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, E-mail: montoyawid@chop.edu. Wanjikũ F. M. Njoroge, Department of Psychiatry, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, and PolicyLab, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, E-mail: njorogew@chop.edu. Kate E. Wallis, PolicyLab, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, and Department of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, E-mail: wallisk@chop.edu. Jeffrey S. Gerber, Division of Infectious Diseases, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, and Department of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, E-mail: gerberj@chop.edu. Katherine Yun, Division of General Pediatrics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, PolicyLab, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, PA, and Department of Pediatrics, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, E-mail: yunk@chop.edu.

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