Kids and COVID-19

Kids might not be at big risk from COVID-19, but that doesn’t mean that they are immune from stress and anxiety from hearing about it all of the time.

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!

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Those COVID-19 Death Comparisons

Don’t be mislead by the folks making false comparisons about COVID-19 deaths.

Have you seen folks trying to compare COVID-19 deaths to other things?

What other things?

All Dr. Phil revealed was that he shouldn't have been talking about COVID-19...
All Dr. Phil revealed was that he shouldn’t have been talking about COVID-19…

Basically anything and everything, from smoking, drowning, and car accidents to the flu…

Those COVID-19 Death Comparisons

It’s not that surprising that those comparisons were made when the COVID-19 pandemic first got going.

It’s like Jenga?

But it is disappointing that some folks are still making these arguments.

“I’m not denying what a nasty disease COVID-19 can be, and how it’s obviously devastating to somewhere between 1 and 3.4 percent of the population. But that means 97 to 99 percent will get through this and develop immunities and will be able to move beyond this. But we don’t shut down our economy because tens of thousands of people die on the highways. It’s a risk we accept so we can move about. We don’t shut down our economies because tens of thousands of people die from the common flu.”

Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, chairman of the Senate’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs

What’s even worse, they seem to be using the arguments to discourage others from social distancing and wearing masks!

Fortunately, most people understand that you can’t really compare COVID-19 deaths to those other things.

It is like comparing apples to oranges. Sure, they are both fruits, but they aren’t the same kinds of fruits.

So why do some people make these false comparisons?

They do it to make you think that both sides of the argument are the same or are equal. After all, it makes easier to downplay COVID-19 deaths if ‘they’ can make you think they are the same as deaths from car accidents, drownings, and the flu, etc.

Instead of the death rate, it is more appropriate to use the case-fatality rate, which factors in the folks who actually had COVID-19.
Instead of the death rate, it is more appropriate to use the case-fatality rate, which factors in the folks who actually had COVID-19.

So why shouldn’t you make these comparisons?

For one thing, deaths from COVID-19 spiked suddenly. They haven’t been spread out over a year or many years, like deaths from car accidents, drownings, and cigarette smoking, etc..

“The demand on hospital resources during the COVID-19 crisis has not occurred before in the US, even during the worst of influenza seasons. Yet public officials continue to draw comparisons between seasonal influenza and SARS-CoV-2 mortality, often in an attempt to minimize the effects of the unfolding pandemic.”

Faust et al on Assessment of Deaths From COVID-19 and From Seasonal Influenza

Also, unlike car accidents and drownings, COVID-19 is contagious.

And don’t forget, we go to great lengths to reduce deaths from car accidents and drownings, with everything from seat belts, air bags, and life jackets to fencing around swimming pools and laws against distracted driving.

Does anyone say “life is about risk,” while throwing their toddler in the pool and walking inside?

We make efforts to reduce that risk!

What is your risk of being in a car accident?
What is your risk of being in a car accident?

We also go to some effort to understand those risks…

“If we overestimate our risk in one area, it can lead to anxiety and interfere with carrying out our normal daily routine. Ironically, it also leads us to underestimate real risks that can injure or kill us.”

National Safety Council on Odds of Dying

So what is your risk of being in a car accident?

Believe it or not, it is fairly low, with the average person filing a claim for a car accident once every 17.9 years.

And since only about 3 in 1,000 car accidents are fatal, the chance of you being in a fatal motor vehicle accident is also fairly low.

“The total number of confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. exceeds 115,000, outnumbering each of the leading causes of preventable injury death (58,908 preventable drug overdose deaths, 39,404 motor-vehicle deaths, and 37,455 fall deaths in 2018). However, the full impact of COVID-19 is even greater than the number of deaths and confirmed cases. The rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, the uncertainty regarding how long the pandemic will last and the disruption to normal everyday activities is impacting society like no other safety issue in modern history.”

COVID-19 Cases in the United States

How does that compare to getting and dying from COVID-19?

Where do you live? Are folks around you wearing a mask?

If you are working from home in a small town with few COVID-19 cases, then your risk is obviously much, much lower than someone who works around the public in a bigger city with rising case counts.

Do you have any risk factors for a more severe case of COVID-19?

While the overall case fatality rate is about 1%, that starts to go up as you approach age 50 and is higher for those with many chronic health conditions.

Most importantly, what are you doing to lower that risk?

Just like your risk of dying in a car accident is going to be much higher than average if you drink and drive, don’t wear a seat belt, talk on your phone, and speed, your risk of getting and dying from a SARS-CoV-2 infection is going to be higher if you live in or travel to an area with a lot of cases, are around a lot of people who aren’t social distancing or wearing masks, and you are in a high risk group.

The bottom line though, whatever your risk, are you going to take steps to increase that risk for your self and those around you or are you going to lower that risk?

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Keep Your Kids Safe from These Hidden Dangers

What are the most common hidden risks and dangers to our kids that parents might overlook or not be aware of?

Did you know that you could break your child's leg while going down a slide together?
Did you know that you could break your child’s leg while going down a slide together?

Accidents are the leading cause of death for kids, with drownings, car accidents, fires, shootings, and poisonings at the top of the list.

But that doesn’t mean that you should ignore all of the other less common causes of accidents.

Did you know that riding down a slide with your kid on your lap is a common way to break their ankle or leg?

If you did, would you still ride down with them?

You can see Meadow’s leg breaking (her foot is going in the wrong direction) as she is going down the slide with her mom. Few people know this can happen and we are lucky that Meadow’s mom continues to tell her story, so that we don’t have to worry about unintentionally hurting our kids.

A few weeks later, another mom posted a video of her son’s leg breaking as they went down a slide in the UK.

Surprisingly, the AAP has actually already warned parents that “going down a slide on a parent’s lap can lead to a broken leg for small children.”

Did you know about that warning?

Keep Your Kids Safe from These Hidden Dangers

Tragically, there are other parents out there that have stories to tell about all of the other hazards listed below.

You can’t raise your kids in a bubble, but just remember that the more risks that you take, then the more likely it is that your kids will eventually get hurt.

Be careful and be mindful of these often overlooked dangers:

  • TV and furniture tip-oversanchor furniture and TVs so that they don’t tip over and hurt your kids
  • ATVs – as injuries and deaths continue, the AAP continues to say that children and teens under age 16 years should not ride on all-terrain vehicles
  • hands, feet, untied shoes, or sandals that get trapped in escalators – tie shoes, stand in the center of the step, and hold the rail
  • elevators
  • falls from shopping carts – kids are frequently hurt in shopping cart falls and tip over incidents, which is why you shouldn’t let your kids ride in  or on a shopping cart
  • inflatable slides and bounce houses – videos of bounce houses flying away are certainly rare examples of safety hazards, but as the use of these inflatables because more common, so do the injuries
  • glass-topped tables – avoid if not made with tempered glass
  • inflatable air mattresses – suffocation danger for infants and younger toddlers if put to sleep on an air mattress
  • bunk beds – should have a guardrail on the top bunk, which should be restricted to kids who are at least 6-years-old
  • high water – don’t drive through high water – Turn Around Don’t Drown – and watch for hazards, like downed power lines, during flooding after storms
  • parade floats – falls from parade floats and kids getting run over near parade floats makes planning and supervision important
  • portable pools
  • recalled or broken toys – a toy that has broken might reveal small parts that can be a choking hazard, lead paint that can be ingested, or sharp edges
  • home exercise equipment – young kids can get injured on your stair climber, treadmill, or stationary bike
  • toys with small parts – choking hazard, which makes it important to buy your kids age-appropriate toys
  • lawn mowerslawn mowers are dangerous and cause a lot of injuries, often when you run over a younger child that you didn’t know was there. Keep in mind that the AAP recommends minimum ages of 12 years to use a push mower and 16 to use a riding mower.
  • magnets – can lead to serious intestinal injuries if two or more magnets are swallowed
  • hoverboards – can overheat while be charged, causing fires
  • clothing – hood and neck drawstrings are a safety hazard and should be cut from young children’s clothing
  • paper shredders
  • window blind cords – kids still die after getting strangled in window blind cords
  • balloons – it is important to remember that balloons are a choking hazard for young kids, as they can choke or suffocate on uninflated or broken balloons.
  • pool, spa, and hot tub drains – faulty drain covers can lead to drownings if a child gets stuck to a hot tub drain. Teach your kids to stay away from drains and make sure drain grates or covers meet the latest safety standards.
  • liquid nicotine for e-cigarettes – can be ingested by young children if not stored in a secure place
  • laundry detergent pods – don’t let your kids eat them
  • poisons – household products and medications commonly poison kids and should be stored properly
  • home trampolines – should not be used and can lead to injuries, even when you think you are using them safely
  • BB guns – non-powder guns can serious injure kids and shouldn’t be used by younger kids or without adult supervision
  • loud toys – listen to toys before you let your kids play with them, as some toys with sirens, etc., can get very loud, especially if your child holds it up to their ear
  • windows – install window guards and stops to prevent falls from windows above the first floor because kids can’t fly
  • digging in the sand – playing in the sand is great fun and still safe, as long your kids don’t try to build deep holes that are deeper than their knees, cave-like structures, or tunnels that they crawl into, as these can suddenly collapse on top of them
  • cedar chests – kids have suffocated in cedar chests that lock automatically when closed
  • playgrounds – too little shock-absorbing surface, ropes on playground equipment (strangulation hazard), sharp edges, tripping hazards, and uncoated metal that can get hot and burn in the summer

Keep your kids safe.

Don’t overlook these hidden dangers.

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