The data collected to date suggest that children below 18 years who have been infected by the Covid-19 virus represent about 9% of reported cases across the globe, with a relatively lesser number of fatalities compared to other age groups. However, this does not suggest that critical cases of Covid-19 transmission are absent among children. Just like among adults, kids with pre-existing medical conditions have a higher risk factor for severe Covid-19 infection that may even lead to intensive care unit admission.
Why Are Kids At Lower Risk?
According to medical researchers, kids are less susceptible to Covid-19 because they have undeveloped sinuses, unlike adults. Studies have shown that the Covid-19 virus replicates in the nasopharynx, which is often underdeveloped in children. Even if kids do test positive for Covid-19, they are less likely to transmit the infection to others. Although the virus load on the swab during the Covid test may seem large, it won’t affect kids as much since their immune systems are triggered differently and generally don’t absorb too many copies of the virus. This is why the number of Covid-19 positive cases reported in the below 18 years age group is considerably on the lower side when compared to other age groups.
When the Coivd19 virus is inhaled, it travels through the nasal cavities to latch on to receptors known as ACE2 and proceeds to make copies of itself leading to an infection. According to current evidence, it seems to point to the fact that kids do not seem to have too many ACE2 receptors as adults. Another main reason why kids are less susceptible to this highly infectious disease is that kids generally do not have as many comorbidities or health conditions as adults. Kids also tend to have higher immunity to seasonal coronaviruses that cause the common cold. Unfortunately, children with underlying health conditions are severely at risk to Covid-19 leading to a dangerous complication known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome or MIS-C. It may even cause life-threatening problems with different organs like lungs, heart, kidneys, brain, eyes and skin in the body. Some of the commonly seen symptoms of MIS-C include:
- Fever that lasts more than a couple of days
- Stomach ache
- Bloodshot eyes
- Neck pain
- Swollen lymph node in the neck
- Red cracked lips
- Swollen feet or hands
- Unusual weakness or sleepiness
- Extremely red tongue
Fortunately, kids who have developed MIS-C have recovered with the right treatment.
Are Babies susceptible to Covid-19?
Babies below one year of age seem to be at a higher risk of developing Covid-19 compared to older children. This is because young babies have immature immune systems and small airways that make them more prone to develop breathing troubles in case of respiratory virus infections.
The coronavirus newborn risk is also present, especially if the newborn is exposed to Covid-19 positive caregivers. In case the expecting mother is Covid-19 positive or waiting for test results, they are advised to wear a face mask and sanitize their hands frequently during hospitalization post-birth. Covid-19 positive mothers are asked to keep a safe distance from their newborn babies to help reduce the chance of infection. It is best not to mix newborns and covid-19 positive caregivers.
If you are wondering can babies spread Covid, the answer is yes. In case the baby is Covid positive or cannot be tested, the caregivers need to wear face masks and shields to protect themselves. They also need to sanitize their hands frequently. Following the health protocols and precautions for newborns during the Covid pandemic will help reduce the chances of infection significantly.
Can Children Avail Covid-19 Vaccines?
At present, the available Covid-19 vaccines have not been tested on humans below 18 years of age. Pfizer and Moderna have started de-escalation studies on children of their Covid vaccine. This involves testing groups of children of varying ages. These studies are carried out to ensure that Covid vaccines are effective and safe for each age group. The studies also enable researchers to determine the optimal dose that is effective with tolerable side effects. Once the studies and trials are completed, the FDA will review the data and decide whether to approve the vaccines for each age group.
When Do You Need To Take Your Children To The Doctor?
If you have noticed any of the symptoms of Covid-19 in your child, you can avail online COVID-19 Consultations for kids. A health practitioner will give you guidance on how to proceed and what medication to give. In case the symptoms get worse, you can contact COVID-19 Online Consultations before deciding to go to the local health centre.
How To Prevent Covid-19 In Children?
In order to prevent your children from Covid-19, you need to teach them how to follow the CDC protocols. The main mitigation strategies when enacted together will minimize the spread of Covid-19 and protect children below 18 years of age. These strategies include:
- Physical distancing
- Correct usage of masks where the mouth and noses are covered at all times
- Frequent handwashing
- Disinfecting high-touch surfaces
- Maintaining healthy facilities
The CDC guidelines include open windows and doors in schools to encourage ventilation in schools. Testing of students and teachers is also encouraged to identify asymptotic cases thereby avoiding potential outbreaks.
If your child exhibits signs of having contracted Covid-19, keep your child at home and away from family members. It is advisable to use a separate bedroom and bathroom for the infected child to stop the virus from spreading to other members of the family. You can avail yourself of online COVID-19 Consultations for Adults and kids to know whether to get your child tested and which medication to give. It is essential to keep a close eye on your child’s symptoms so that health practitioners can guide you through this illness. Most kids improve within a couple of days and are soon back to their active selves. However, if self-isolation is not followed at home, the virus may infect other more susceptible members at home leading to disastrous consequences in some cases. As long as you follow the CDC guidelines and protocol you and your family have a lower risk of getting infected by the Covid-19 virus.