Thursday | 09 April | 2020
By Anja van den Berg
Children, including very young children, can develop contract coronavirus (Covid-19). Although concerns are high, the risk of serious illness to otherwise healthy children seems to be low.
A new study has looked at a small group of children in China who had Covid-19 and recovered, finding that their symptoms were mild.
The paper published in Nature Medicine further reinforces other existing data suggesting that Covid-19 is rarely severe in children. The research findings should help ease the fears of many parents who are be worried about their children getting sick in the current outbreak.
The study looked at ten children in China who had confirmed Covid-19 after screening 745 children who had close contact with diagnosed patients or were members of families who had experienced outbreaks.
The children were between 2 months and 15 years of age and were admitted to a treatment centre.
Seven children had a fever (but not exceeding 39 °C) and other symptoms included coughing, sore throat and nasal congestion. None of the children experienced headaches or muscle aches as has been reported in many adult patients.
Chest X-rays of all ten children showed no convincing signs of pneumonia, which has been seen in severe cases in adults.
“The major limitation is that it’s a small study with only ten patients, but it does provide us with useful information,” says Dr John Williams, chief of the Division of Paediatric Infectious Diseases, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. “The new paper shows that some of these children have a large amount of virus, but they weren’t very sick,” he adds.
However, there are concerns about children who are sick with specific conditions such as cancer, diabetes and asthma. Children who are immunocompromised are at much higher risk. Additionally, infants younger than one year seem to be at a slightly higher risk of severe illness.
Nature Medicine: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41591-020-0817-4
* All information was correct at the time of publication.