How COVID-19 Affects Children

COVID-19 may affect children differently than adults

(RxWiki News) How does COVID-19 affect kids? It's a question most parents have. And we're starting to get answers.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the US, scientists and health officials are working to understand the coronavirus and how it affects different groups of people. Emerging evidence suggests that children may experience COVID-19 differently than adults in many cases.

For more information on how COVID-19 affects children, check out the FAQs below.

Are children as likely as adults to get sick with COVID-19?

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), children accounted for only 9.5 percent of all US coronavirus cases as of Aug. 27. That means the other 90 percent of cases were in adults.

Still, the data showed that more than 476,000 kids had been diagnosed with COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic. That same data, according to the AAP, suggested that severe illness and hospitalization from COVID-19 were rare in children when compared with adults.

Do kids have different COVID-19 symptoms?

Children tend to have less severe COVID-19 symptoms than adults, according to Harvard Health Publishing. The particular symptoms that children and adults have from COVID-19 are similar, but the Mayo Clinic reported that they are milder and more like cold symptoms in kids.

Here are some examples of COVID-19 symptoms in kids:

  • Runny nose or nose congestion
  • Fever
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea and vomiting

Are children more or less likely than adults to die of COVID-19?

The AAP said on its website that death rates from COVID-19 were lower in children than in adults. As of publishing time, children accounted for between 0 and 0.3 percent of coronavirus-related deaths. Nineteen states reported having no children die from COVID-19.

What happens when babies get COVID-19?

COVID-19 infection in babies and newborns is rare, according to the Mayo Clinic, but when it does occur, babies are more likely to develop a severe illness. This may be due to babies' smaller airways or underdeveloped immune systems. If you believe your baby might have COVID-19, seek medical advice immediately.

What is multisystem inflammatory syndrome?

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) appears to occur in some children who have previously been infected with COVID-19. It is marked by inflammation and swelling in various parts of the body, such as the brain, heart, kidneys, skin and blood vessels.

MIS-C can be very serious in some cases. Here are some emergency warning signs of MIS-C:

  • Severe pain in the stomach
  • Bluish face or lips
  • Confusion
  • Pressure or pain in the chest that won't go away
  • Breathing trouble
  • Being unable to wake up or stay awake

Seek emergency medical care if your child has any of the above symptoms — even if they haven't been diagnosed with COVID-19 at any point.

Do kids spread coronavirus?

Harvard Health Publishing reported that most children who are infected with coronavirus show no symptoms. For their parents, that may be good news, but for those around them, it could mean that they're more likely to spread the virus without knowing it.

Early research suggested that kids were less likely than others to spread the virus, especially when they were not showing symptoms or had mild symptoms. But new findings suggest that children can have high viral loads — meaning they have a lot of the virus present in their systems — without being sick. And that could mean that they're more likely to spread the virus to others.

To protect your health and that of your child during the COVID-19 pandemic, practice recommended safety measures like mask-wearing and social distancing. And ask your family health care provider for additional information and tips.

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Review Date: 
September 4, 2020