We’ve heard a lot about how COVID-19 is worst in elderly people and those with pre-existing medical conditions, but what about kids, babies and pregnancies?
The short answer is that youngsters tend to have a much lower risk of severe illness or dying from the new coronavirus, which is reassuring.
“Children will undoubtedly get infected but the probability that they will come to serious grief from this seems very low,” said Peter Collignon, professor of infectious diseases at the Australian National University medical school.
Here’s what we know about the risk to kids, infants, and pregnant mothers and their babies.
Children and COVID-19
Kids (including teens) have the lowest risk of dying from COVID-19 out of all age groups, and have lower rates of illness at the more severe end of the spectrum.
They also don’t seem to be getting infected at as high a rate as we might have expected, Dr Collignon said.
A study that looked at 1,391 children who were close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 cases in China found only 12 per cent of them had infections.
“It’s not that children aren’t being infected, but they’re being infected at a much lower rate than higher age groups,” Professor Collignon said.
He said studies were showing children tend to have relatively mild symptoms – but it was rare for them to have no symptoms at all.
“Perversely, that’s reassuring. There’s not a lot of asymptomatic spread in children as far as we know now.”
None of this is to say that COVID-19 doesn’t hit a small number of children severely.
Three children in the study Professor Collignon referred to required intensive care, but all had other health conditions.
Another study of more than 2,000 children with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 in China found a small proportion in each age group had severe or critical forms of the disease. This could involve symptoms such as low oxygen levels or respiratory failure.
A commentary in the same journal, Pediatrics, noted that for other infections with other coronaviruses (that is, not the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2) being younger, having underlying lung conditions, and being immunocompromised are all linked with more severe disease in children.
Babies and toddlers
Infants are also at fairly low risk from COVID-19, but not quite as low as older children.
Toddlers, especially those under the age of 1, had a higher risk of having a severe or critical form of the disease, according to the Pediatrics paper.
Professor Collignon said babies tended to be at higher risk from most infections.
“In general, the younger the child the higher the risk,” he said.
“If you’re under the age of 1, you’re at more of a risk of most diseases because you haven’t developed any immunity yet.”
But he said he hadn’t seen any really convincing data that they were more at risk.
“There’s a lot we don’t know. I don’t want to sound like we’ve got all the answers,” he said.
“But my presumption at the moment [based on the evidence] is that babies don’t appear to be at a very high risk.”
Pregnant women and their babies
Changes to the immune system during pregnancy mean pregnant women are often considered to be at higher than average risk from infections.
“But again, there’s not really good evidence, as far as I can see, that pregnant women are at higher risk than women the same age,” Professor Collignon said.
- Pregnant women don’t seem to become more severely unwell from COVID-19 than the general population
- Infection doesn’t seem to increase the risk of miscarriage
- There is no evidence the virus can pass from pregnant mother to baby
- There is no evidence the virus will cause abnormalities in an unborn baby
- Caesarean section or induction of labour does not seem necessary to reduce the risk of transmission from mother to child
- Some babies born to women with symptoms of COVID-19 in China were born prematurely, but it’s unclear whether this was due to the virus or doctors’ decisions
- Newborn babies and infants don’t seem to be at increased risk of complications
- COVID-19 does not seem to pass from mother to child through breastmilk, so breastfeeding is still encouraged, although women with the virus should be extra careful with hygiene and consider wearing a face mask while feeding
Professor Collignon urged people to follow the public health advice around social distancing, cleanliness and staying away from sick people.
He also stressed that, while concern about kids, babies and pregnancies around the…
Source Website How does coronavirus affect kids, babies and pregnancies? – Health