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Children and pandemics: do they get sick and how? Symptoms you can’t miss

All the reports gathered on the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus show that they are not susceptible to children. But during the pandemic it becomes easy to forget that they can becomes victims of other diseases that are dangerous to them.

Paediatricians are urging all parents and guardians that they should however stay vigilant, the coronavirus is not the only threat.

Preliminary data collected by scientist on the course of infection caused by the novel coronavirus highlights certain age group particularly vulnerable to the severe cause of COVID-19, these are the elderly.

Another group could be people with cases of hypertension, diabetes, kidney failure or reduced immunity due to immuno-deficiency disease like cancer.

Does COVID-19 affect children?

Data on this subject was collected and published among scientist and children examined. A recent review of the Chinese centre for disease control and prevention noted that over 72,000 infected people in china showed that less than 1 percent of them were children under 10 years of age.

The authors of the work in NEJM examined children who, due to infection with the novel coronavirus, were taken to a children’s hospital in Wuhan which the only one was assigned to take care of patients under 16 years of age.

Towards the end of January to the end of February, 1391 children had already been admitted to the hospital both with symptoms of infection and asymptomatic traits but they all had confirmed contact with and infected person or a person suspected of being infected.

It remains noteworthy that in the case of COVID-19, children are infected by being in contact with infected adults. These were published notes by paediatrician specialist in infectious diseases Dr. Ernest Kuchar from the medical university of Warsaw.

All children described at work in NEJM have been tested. It turned out that in a group of 1391 children who had confirmed contact with an infected person or suspected of infection there were 171 infected. This s slightly more than 12% were infected with SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

The median age of infected children was 6.7 years.

All 1391 patients underwent additional test, including chest tomography. It turned out that:

  1. Out of the group of 171 infected children, 27 did not show any disease symptoms or had any changed in their radiological image
  2. 12 children in the group did not show nay signs of infection, but radiological tests showed characteristic changed for pneumonia
  3. Other children had symptoms including 41% fever, cough
  4. Symptoms such as fatigue, diarrhoea, vomiting or a runny nose were rare

Of the infected children, 3 required mechanical ventilation and treatment in the intensive care unit. The three had concomitant diseases (hydronephrosis, leukemia, and intussusception)

A 10 month old infant with intussusception, died 4 weeks after being admitted to hospital.

Similar test were carried out in the US with the median age being 11 years whilst other children older than those tested by the Chinese were added and the most infected age group was from 15-17 years.

Three children died. Of the entire group analysed 57% were male.

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American data on the symptoms of infection in children, however, come from a small group of patients, only 291. However, in this work it is worth paying attention to comparing the data on the course of infection in children and adults: it was noted that COVID-19 symptoms such as cough, shortness of breath , fever occurred in 74 percent. Infected children, but in 94% adults. This is another premise for the hypothesis that children more often than adults undergo this disease more mildly and asymptomatically.

It remains paramount that social distancing measures continue to be enhanced and contact between children and adults monitored and discouraged.

Pediatricians call for other diseases to be missed during a pandemic.
–  There are diseases that are much more dangerous for children than COVID-19  – emphasizes Dr. Kuchar.
He urges parents to know the alarm symptoms that should prompt them to seek medical help as soon as possible.

  • Cyanosis, change in skin color to gray or centered
  • Changing the child’s behavior – for example, apathy, lying down, increased drowsiness, unrelenting crying
  • Any disturbance of consciousness
  • convulsions
  • No urination
  • Accelerated breathing or effort, breathing between the ribs
  • High fever (beware! Fever is not a temperature up to 38 degrees Celsius).

The pediatrician points out that many parents are primarily concerned about elevated temperatures. Meanwhile, in children this is not the only symptom of deterioration of health; indeed,  many dangerous diseases are not accompanied by fever at all.

Dr. Kuchar calls for the vaccination schedule to be adhered to. He emphasizes that the diseases against which children are vaccinated are far more dangerous to them than COVID-19.

What is best for your child during the pandemic?

The coronavirus will have long term effects on the world as a whole but there are certain actions that can be enforced to encourage positive growth.

Children should be encouraged to play and move about as this is an active time in their lives for proper development of their psychomotor.

Children who endure limited social contacts for a long time might end up not being able to function well in a group.

It is advised that children avoid long period of being plonked in front of the TV or on their devices or computers

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