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What a Chinese study tells us about COVID-19 and children – Harvard Health Blog : HEALTH

If we want to predict what will happen to COVID-19 here in the United States, it makes sense to look at the experience in China, where the epidemic started. In a study published in the magazine pediatricswe learn how the pandemic affected children.

What this study tells us

The study examined information on 2,143 children with COVID-19 infections that were reported to China’s disease control centers from January 16 to February 8 this year. About a third of the infections were confirmed with a laboratory test for COVID-19. The others were diagnosed based on the symptoms and results of other tests, such as X-rays.

The best news in this study is that 90% of the children had an asymptomatic, mild or moderate illness – as opposed to a serious or critical one. While 4.4% were reported as asymptomatic because only a third had laboratory tests, it is very likely that the actual number of asymptomatic infections in children was higher during this period. Only one child died.

In adults, more than 80% appear to have mild to moderate infections. We do not know why children suffer from a minor illness overall. It’s probably a combination of factors related to body chemistry, immune function, and even social factors, such as: B. how children are looked after and spend their days. But whatever the reason, it’s good news.

What else is important to know

However, there is one part of the study that we need to pay attention to: younger children are at higher risk of getting into trouble. 10.6% of children under the age of one had a serious or critical illness. In children aged 1 to 5 years, this number was still high at 7.3%. It fell to 4.2% for 6 to 10 year olds, 4.1% for 11 to 15 year olds and 3% for people aged 16 and over. Interestingly, the only child who died was 14 years old.

It’s not really surprising that the youngest children, especially infants, are more vulnerable. In most epidemics such as influenza, the very young and the very old have the highest risk.

How can this information help us?

How can we use this information? Aside from all the advice parents have been given about washing their hands, social distancing, and maintaining healthy habits, parents of young children should be extra careful.

Be especially careful who has contact with your young children

  • Choose the nursing staff carefully. Limit the total number and choose those who have limited contact with other people and who can be trusted to exercise social distance, wash their hands frequently, and stay away if they feel sick at all.
  • Limit the number of people who have or keep in touch with young children.
  • Keep small children at home as much as possible. If you take them out, leave them in strollers or otherwise limit what they touch.
  • Wash your hands more often. You just can’t stop yourself from touching things and touching your face.

Be especially vigilant when young children get sick

Call your doctor for advice instead of inviting your child over for a mild or moderate illness (your doctor can’t do anything in the office and you’re only increasing the risk of higher exposure). However, you should definitely see a doctor if your child has this

  • Difficulty breathing – rapid or vigorous breathing, pale or blue skin, problems feeding or speaking, or normal activities due to breathing problems
  • A high fever that you cannot lower (although it is not certain, some concerns have been raised regarding the use of ibuprofen with COVID-19 – for caution, it is best to use acetaminophen instead)
  • unusual sleepiness
  • You cannot relieve pain or irritability
  • Problems drinking or refusing to drink and less urine.

Follow me on Twitter @drClaireMD

For more information on coronavirus and COVID-19, visit Harvard Health Publishing’s Coronavirus Resource Center.

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