One good piece of news that is easy to pick out from all of the doom and gloom about COVID-19 is that kids don’t really seem to be at extra risk from this new disease.
“In this preliminary description of pediatric U.S. COVID-19 cases, relatively few children with COVID-19 are hospitalized, and fewer children than adults experience fever, cough, or shortness of breath. Severe outcomes have been reported in children, including three deaths.”Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Children — United States, February 12–April 2, 2020
So far, fewer than 2% of cases in the United States have occurred in children and teens who are less than 18 years old. And of those who did get COVID-19, “relatively few pediatric COVID-19 cases were hospitalized” and even were admitted to the ICU.
Many did not even have a fever or cough!
That’s good news, as kids are often in high risk groups and at extra risk for other infectious diseases, like flu, measles, and RSV.
Kids and COVID-19
So why don’t kids get infected by SARS-CoV-2 more often?
“There have been very few reports of the clinical outcomes for children with COVID-19 to date. Limited reports from China suggest that children with confirmed COVID-19 may present with mild symptoms and though severe complications (acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock) have been reported, they appear to be uncommon.”Children and COVID-19
Well, we actually don’t know how many kids are getting SARS-CoV-2…
Right now, it just seems like most don’t get severe disease, but because of limited testing and a priority going to those with severe disease, it may be that many more kids are infected than we know.
“Though the evidence to date suggests this virus doesn’t inflict severe disease on children, there’s reason to think kids may be helping to amplify transmission. It’s a role they play to devastating effect during flu season, becoming ill and passing flu viruses on to their parents, grandparents, teachers, and caregivers.”A critical question in getting a handle on coronavirus: What role do kids play in spreading it?
They could just be getting very mild disease or infection without symptoms.
While that’s certainly reassuring, we can’t ignore the possibility that kids could get and spread the SARS-CoV-2 virus to others in high risk groups, including older people and people with severe chronic health conditions.
“If parents seem overly worried, children’s anxiety may rise. Parents should reassure children that health and school officials are working hard to ensure that people throughout the country stay healthy. However, children also need factual, age appropriate information about the potential seriousness of disease risk and concrete instruction about how to avoid infections and spread of disease.”Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource
And we shouldn’t forget that there is one thing that children aren’t immune to right now – anxiety from hearing about COVID-19 all of the time!
More on Kids and COVID-19
- How to Self-Quarantine After Being Exposed to a Disease
- Should You Be Tested for COVID-19?
- COVID-19 Hype or Hazard
- What You Need to Know About a COVID-19 Vaccine
- What is the COVID-19 Mortality Rate?
- MMWR – Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Children — United States, February 12–April 2, 2020
- Information For Schools and Child Care on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource
- CDC– Children and COVID-19
- A critical question in getting a handle on coronavirus: What role do kids play in spreading it?
- CDC – Get Your Household Ready for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
- WHO – Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19)
- Keeping your home healthy and safe How families with children can keep their homes healthy and safe during the COVID-19 outbreak
- 7 Ways to Help Kids Cope with Coronavirus (COVID-19) Anxiety
- Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): What parents should know
- Mitigate the effects of home confinement on children during the COVID-19 outbreak
- Epidemiology and Transmission of COVID-19 in Shenzhen China: Analysis of 391 cases and 1,286 of their close contacts
- Local health officials announce new recommendations to reduce risk of spread of COVID-19
Last Updated on August 22, 2020 by Vincent Iannelli, MD