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Bright Futures

Articles and Updates from Phoenix Children's

April 16, 2020, Dr. Gary Kirkilas
Emphasizing the Evidence: Children with COVID-19 Do Well

  

kids and mom dancing

As parents, we worry about our children. We worry about their health, education, safety and more. One study cited that parents spend up to 37 hours a week worrying about their children. Sometimes this worry helps keep us on track, but many times it is counterproductive. With the COVID-19 pandemic now a reality, many parents’ anxieties are skyrocketing (mine sure are). However, there is some good news on the horizon for parents concerned how children fare with COVID-19. Preliminary data from both China and the U.S. show that, fortunately, the overwhelming majority of children with COVID-19 do surprisingly well.

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The Center for Disease Control just published their findings from U.S. children who tested positive for COVID-19 from February 12 to April 2. The first notable finding is that many children who contract COVID-19 have no symptoms at all. For comparison, 94% of adults showed the typical symptoms of fever, cough and shortness of breath. Only 73% of children exhibited those symptoms. While this is reassuring, it is important to remember that those 27% of children who didn’t have those symptoms may still have the potential to spread the virus to more susceptible populations (people over the age of 65). Looking further into the data, the most worrisome symptom, shortness of breath, only occurred in children 13% of the time, whereas adults showed this symptom 43% of the time.

 

The second piece of good news is when children get COVID-19, the majority will simply be able to recover at home. A much smaller amount require hospitalization. The report cited that, of all positive cases, only 5.7% were reported to be hospitalized*. Of those children who were hospitalized, only 2% needed to be admitted to the Intensive Care Unit. Of note, children who are less than one year of age or those who have underlying health conditions (specifically chronic lung disease, cardiovascular disease and immunosuppression) were at higher risk for requiring hospitalization. Parents of children who fit in these higher risk categories should especially enforce strict social distancing and good hand hygiene practices. 

For the worrying parent being bombarded with headlines about hospitals surging with patients, holding on to some factual based good news is a welcome relief. It’s true, COVID-19 is a serious illness and because of that we should all diligently practice social distancing for the time being and good hand hygiene always. However, the good news is that preliminary evidence is showing children are remarkably resilient to COVID-19.

If you have questions about your child’s health or are unsure if they may have symptoms of COVID-19, the pediatricians at Phoenix Children’s are available to you via our new telemedicine system. You can see and speak with your regular pediatrician right from the comfort of your own home! Your pediatrician can do many of the same things through telemedicine as an in-person visit such as order medications and labs, review labs and do a modified physical exam.

*Hospitalization status was not always available on all cases. Of those cases where hospitalization status was included 20% of pediatric cases required hospitalization.

FIGURE. COVID-19 cases among children* aged <18 years, among those with known hospitalization status (N = 745),† by age group and hospitalization status — United States, February 12–April 2, 2020

Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Children — United States, February 12–April 2, 2020. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2020;69:422–426. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.mm6914e4

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