COVID19 in children – All that parents need to know!

COVID-19, discovered in December 2019, has now spread throughout the world and caused unprecedented disruption to life as we knew it. The uncertainties and anxieties in everyone’s mind are enormous and among parents, the health and well being of children are of utmost priority. Parents are concerned about how they can protect their children and their family. Our patients are asking about best practices for preventing the virus from getting into their house. Parents are also worried about how to talk to their kids about this. Here, we’ll address some of these common concerns.

What is Coronavirus and COVID19?

Although COVID-19 is a new disease, it belongs to a family of coronaviruses which for decades have been among the commonest cause of illnesses like the common cold.

SARS CoV 2 is a new strain of the virus, for which the general population has no immunity against, thereby resulting in widespread infection.

Person-to-person spread from or to children, as among adults, is thought to occur mainly via respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks.

Is COVID19 a dangerous disease in children?

Although we have had millions of people infected across the globe and many people have unfortunately lost their lives, the comforting news is that the impact of the disease has been significantly mild in children compared to adults. Studies have shown that

20% of healthy children will be asymptomatic, i.e they will not have any symptoms. The deaths among children have also been fortunately very low compared to adults.

However, a small percentage of children have been reported to have more severe illness. Infants and adolescents over the age of 15 years are at higher risk.

What are the symptoms In children with COVID 19?

As mentioned above, 20% of healthy children will show no symptoms, but they will be carriers of the virus and are capable of transmitting the infection to their contacts.

The majority of children will show mild to moderate symptoms:

  • Mild symptoms are runny nose or a cough
  • Moderate symptoms are fever, runny nose, cough, and sometimes vomit and diarrhea
  • Severe symptoms include high fever, shortness of breath, tightness of chest, altered sensorium such as drowsiness or agitation and bluish discoloration of the lips

Essentially, COVlD -19 will appear like a common cold in most children unless they have underlying conditions or lung issues.

How can I protect my child from getting infected?

There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID 19, but there are a few things you can do to keep your kids and family healthy.

You can encourage your child to help stop the spread of COVID – 19 by teaching them to do the same things everyone should do to stay healthy.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
  • If soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizer. Look for one that is 60% or higher alcohol-based
  • Avoid touching your face, teach your children to do the same
  • Teach kids to cough and sneeze into a tissue (make sure to throw it away after each use) or to cough and sneeze into their arm or elbow, not their hands
  • Reduce close contact with others by practicing physical or social distancing. This means staying at home as much as possible and avoiding groups.
  • Clean and disinfect daily high-touch surfaces in the household, such as tables, car handles, door knobs, light switches, remotes, mobile phones, desks, toilets.
  • Launder items including washable plush toys as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items, and dry items completely.

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Dr. Sunil Raj

Specialist Paediatrician
Aster Clinic, Business Bay

 

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