COVID-19 and Children
In these uncertain times, we are fighting against a virus that has had a massive impact on the global population. Initially it was thought that the virus affected mainly men and older people. However, we are now seeing more children being infected by the virus. We have had recent publications and commentaries based on observations of children in China who have had COVID-19. I have summarised some of the findings that I have found on various sites and journals.
· A study published March 18 in the New England Journal of Medicine reported from the major medical center treating children in Wuhan, China, the original epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak.
· Of 171 children and teens, about 16 percent had no symptoms. The most common symptoms were cough, sore throat and fever.
· Children often presented with gastric symptoms first. Hence, this has possibly led to delay in diagnosis and treatment.
Which age/group are most susceptible
· Journal of Pediatrics published an analysis of 2,143 children with COVID-19 documented from Jan. 16 to Feb. 8 in China. It found that symptoms of the disease were generally less severe in children and teens compared with adults. Specifically, 4.4 percent had no symptoms, 50.9 percent had mild disease and 38.8 percent had moderate symptoms. Of the children with symptoms, only 0.6 percent developed acute respiratory distress syndrome or multiple organ dysfunction.
· Of note, however, young children—particularly infants under one year of age—had a higher risk for significant illness.
· Ten percent of infants had severe disease, compared with 3 percent of teens over age 15.
· Children under the age of 1 tend to have more severe symptoms possibly due to their relatively immature immune systems.
Uncertain role of transmission in faeces
· Nearly all samples used for virus testing have been from nasal or throat swabs. However, genetic material from the virus has also been detectable in the stool of patients with confirmed infection, even as far out as several weeks after diagnosis. Hence contact with stool could potentially pose a risk. Parents are advised to take care when changing diapers.
Pregnancy and Transmission of COVID – 19
· Two studies suggest that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, does not pass from an infected woman to her baby.
· A small study in The Lancet involving nine pregnant women who had COVID-19 pneumonia found that none of their newborns showed signs of the infection, nor was the virus detected in the mother’s milk or in the fluid surrounding the baby before birth.
· Another study, in Frontiers in Pediatrics, followed four different COVID-19-infected pregnant women in Wuhan, China. There was no proven transmission from mother to baby during pregnancy.
· In the handful of cases where women with confirmed COVID-19 infection gave birth, there is no evidence that the infant was infected before or during delivery.
To find out more about COVID-19 Virus in children I would recommend booking a place on our on-line Telephone Triage and COVID-19 course. This course covers consultation questions and red flags.