Children, COVID-19, and the latest Pediatrics paper from China
Maggie points to a paper about to be released in Pediatrics that looks at patterns of infection in children 2-13 years in the Chinese epidemic that looked at 2143 cases. These are early days, and there are limitations in the data—only a third of the cases were laboratory confirmed, and no clinical data was available to this study. We do not know whether the infants were breast-fed. What it does show is that children can contract COVID-19, and even though the severe and critical cases were a third of adult rates, there was a single death. Interpreting the significance of reports under 1 year, where severe and critical cases represented 10.6%--higher than for older age groups--is difficult. Only 86 of the 379 cases in this group were confirmed; clinical diagnosis in infants of this age will overlap with other respiratory disease. Given that asymptomatic cases won’t be tested, in this age we could expect this to result in a higher proportion of severe cases—we just won’t pick up those that are less symptomatic. We need to be cautious in what we can say from this study. I think that what we can say with confidence is that, while children overall suffer milder cases of COVID-19 when they are infected, it can be severe. It’s not a trivial disease. Prevention measures—in infants especially breast-feeding—are imperative.
Kate was wondering if kids can spread COVID-19 to adults. They can. But the rates of transmission of infection among children seem to be lower than among adults, and they are less likely—for a variety of reasons—to be key spreaders. But you will be aware of heightened concerns to protect older family members, so make sure they get lots of chances to face-time their grandparents to make up!
Peter S Hill
Honorary Associate Professor
School of Public Health
The University of Queensland
Phone: +61 (0) 449 287 892
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