As parents, it is natural to be concerned about your children and their safety during a pandemic. Dr. Anuradha Gunasekharan, Specialist Paediatrician at Aster Speciality Clinic, International City, answers some questions about COVID-19 and the precautions parents and to-be moms can take during this time.
Is the corona virus more dangerous for babies and small children than it is for adults?
We know it is possible for people of any age to be infected with the virus, but so far there are relatively few cases of COVID-19 reported among children. This is a new virus and we need to learn more about how it affects children.
As well as the normal measures, such as hygiene and maintaining social distancing, what else can be done to protect a baby or child from this virus?
The first and foremost measure which is going to be very effective in preventing COVID and other respiratory viruses is Hand hygiene. All children and adults should perform hand washing in a stepwise manner.
- Step 1: Wet hands with running water
- Step 2: Apply enough soap to cover wet hands
- Step 3: Scrub all surfaces of the hands – including back of the hands, between fingers and under nails – for at least 20 seconds
- Step 4: Rinse thoroughly with running water
- Step 5: Dry hands with a clean cloth
Also ensure that children wash their hands often, especially before eating, after blowing their nose, coughing or sneezing and after going to the bathroom.
If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
Avoid close contact with anyone who has cold or flu-like symptoms. Medical care should be sought early if you or your child has a cough, fever and/or difficulty in breathing. Talk to kids about respiratory hygiene and how to appropriately use and dispose masks. Teach children not to touch their eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands and to cough or sneeze into the tissue paper and dispose the tissue properly.
If you have had any contact with someone who has returned recently from any of the global hotspots for COVID-19, it is important to divulge the exact travel history to the authorities. Update the vaccination status of your kid with emphasis on the flu vaccine.
There are a lot of tips being shared around the community to help ward off the chance of contracting the virus. Are there any that you think hold any merit? Anything that we can do to make our children less likely to contract the virus?
Quoting the words of WHO Director-General, Dr.Tedros Adhanam Ghebreyesus: “We’re not just fighting an epidemic; we are fighting an infodemic”. To this date, there is no scientific evidence that any of these alternate remedies can prevent or cure the illness caused by this virus. Relying on unverified information may undermine the most effective preventive measures like hand and respiratory hygiene.
Are there any vitamins that we can increase in our children’s diets (and/or with supplements) in order to help keep our kids healthy and resilient against the virus? Such as Vit C, for example? If so, which vitamins and minerals and in what quantities?
Though micronutrients like vitamin C and Zinc may be helpful to individuals who have deficiencies, there is no scientific evidence available to prescribe specific vitamins and minerals to keep kids or adults resilient against the virus. A well-balanced diet and regular physical activity is good enough to enhance the innate immunity of the children and to maintain the readiness of our immune system to new challenges.
What about pregnant mums? How would the COVID-19 impact them and their foetus/baby?
Fortunately, pregnant women are not highly affected by this infection and no mother-to-baby transmission of COVID-19 has been reported yet. There are no reports of fetal malformations, like the Zika virus, either.
Do you have any specific advice for pregnant mums?
There’s no need to panic at all. Keep your mind calm and happy. Follow the advice of your doctors and practice hand hygiene measures. Stay away from sick people. Update your flu vaccine status.
In the era of smart phones and communication over social media, false messages related to health are traveling at lightning speed. Kindly approach health experts for clarifications and do not believe all the information you receive on social media unless it’s verified by the authorities and is authentic.
Dr. Anuradha Gunasekharan
Aster Speciality Clinic, International City