How is coronavirus affecting children?

The common perception is that coronavirus raging around the globe has tended to tread gently with children with relatively small numbers of infections so far.

A study in the journal Pediatrics, published in March 2020 looked at more than 2,000 ill children across China reveals that while most develop mild or moderate symptoms a small percentage — especially babies and pre-schoolers — can become seriously ill. About 6 per cent (125 children) became severely ill, about 60 percent of these were age 5 or younger. The study reported that forty of these were infants under 12 months old.

About half of the children had mild symptoms, such as fever, fatigue, cough, congestion and possibly nausea or diarrhoea. More than a third — about 39 percent — became moderately sick, with additional symptoms including pneumonia or lung problems revealed by CT scan, but with no obvious shortness of breath. About 4 percent had no symptoms at all.

“The main conclusion,” Dr. Murthy (an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of British Columbia), “is that children are infected at rates that may be comparable to adults, with severity that’s much less, but that even within the kids, there’s a spectrum of illness and there’s a handful that require more aggressive therapy”.

Dr. Tong the study’s senior author, who is director of the department of clinical epidemiology and biostatistics at Shanghai Children’s Medical Center. said he believed that younger children were more susceptible to infection because their respiratory systems and other body functions are rapidly developing. Further details can be found at https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/17/health/coronavirus-childen.html

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