During the height of the coronavirus outbreak, our collective focus remained on the adults, many older than 40, who became infected with COVID-19. America’s entire education system turned virtual as a precaution, but the effects of coronavirus on children were still unknown.
Now, as more than half of the country’s states begin to slowly reopen and the start of a new school year looms around the corner, it’s more important than ever before to understand coronavirus in kids.
The CDC’s List of Coronavirus Symptoms in Children
Fortunately, COVID-19 symptoms have consistently appeared milder in children than in adults. According to the CDC, most children with a confirmed case of coronavirus presented “with symptoms of upper respiratory infection”, including:
- Nasal congestion
- Runny nose (Rhinorrhea)
- Sore throat
Other symptoms like headache, loss of appetite, diarrhea, and shortness of breath may also indicate an infection of COVID-19 in children.
If a child ever shows signs of bluish lips, confusion, inability to awaken, or difficulty breathing, he should be taken to the hospital immediately.
What Do the Statistics Tell Us?
The rate of infection for children remains relatively low across the globe. In the United States, 2% of confirmed coronavirus cases were among children under the age of 18. This rate is even lower in Italy and Spain, where 1.2% and 0.8% of cases, respectively, were confirmed in children under 18.
Yet those are only the cases that are confirmed as coronavirus. According to a recent study in Pediatrics, 90% of Chinese children who tested positive for the disease had mild symptoms or no symptoms at all. This indicates a possibility that a high number of children become infected with COVID-19 and quickly recover without ever showing signs of the illness.
Though the numbers indicate that children are not as vulnerable to COVID-19 as adults, scientists still need to learn more, especially as schools prepare to reopen in September. This is why the CDC has devoted $2.1 million in funding for a study of 800 children and youth up to age 25 who are hospitalized with COVID-19.
Called Overcoming COVID-19, this research effort is being organized by Boston Children’s Hospital at more than 35 children’s hospitals around the country. It will perform real-time surveillance to capture data and uncover factors that may increase or decrease vulnerability to COVID-19 among children.
“Based on what we know about other viruses, such as influenza, we would expect children to be the first to get sick and have more severe disease,” says Adrienne Randolph, MD, MSc, a senior physician in Critical Care Medicine at Boston Children’s and the study’s principal investigator. “If we can understand what protects kids, we may get clues as to why older people are so susceptible.”