Rumors are flying that the third wave of COVID-19 in India will disproportionately affect children. AIIMS and the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) have largely debunked these claims, while outlining the reasons and precautions we need to follow. Read on to find out-
Does COVID affect children more than adults?
90% of cases detected in kids have been mild or even asymptomatic, the reason being that children have less expression of the specific receptor on the surface of their cells, to which the SARS-CoV-2 virus needs to bind in order to enter the cell. Some children do develop moderate to severe disease, and it is important to know the signs and get treatment quickly.
What symptoms does COVID cause in children?
- Dry cough
- Tiredness; may be shown as crankiness and excessive crying.
- Sore throat
- Muscle/body ache
- May be congested/have a runny nose.
- Nausea, loss of taste and smell; may be shown as a lack of interest in food.
- Abdominal (belly) pain, diarrhea, vomiting.
Children are less likely to have shortness of breath, seen commonly in adults. They may also develop pneumonia without showing any outward signs. It is important to stay vigilant if your child has tested positive.
Signs of an Emergency-
If your child exhibits any of these symptoms, seek urgent attention from the nearest emergency room/casualty-
- Difficult to wake, lethargic and constantly drowsy, confused.
- Short of breath; sounds like gasping or grunting.
- Unable to keep down even liquids; vomits it up.
- Pale/bluish/greyish lips, palms or nails.
What is MIS-C?
Multisystemic Inflammatory Syndrome in Children is a serious condition that can develop in children, age 0 to 19, after they have had COVID or been around someone who had COVID in the past four weeks. It tends to develop after COVID, although it can sometimes occur while the COVID infection is current. Causing inflammation in organs of the body from skin and blood vessels to heart and brain,the symptoms develop according to the affected organs.
It is a rare occurrence, but children who have it deteriorate quickly, so it is important to know the signs.
- Fever above 38 Centigrade or 100.4 Fahrenheit, lasting more than 24-72 hours.
- Reddish rash on the skin.
- Peeling skin on fingertips.
- Swollen, red 'strawberry' tongue, swollen lips.
- Swelling, tenderness and pain in the neck.
- Redness and irritation of the eyes.
- Pain and pressure in the chest.
- Abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea.
- Seizures (fits), headaches/dizziness/lightheadedness.
- Rapid breathing and heart rate.
- Swelling of hands/feet.
What is the treatment for children?
For COVID, treatment is similar to that in adults. Depending on the severity of the disease, doctors may advise either home isolation or hospitalisation. The IAP has issued treatment guidelines for COVID management in children; do not unnecessarily demand for certain medications to be prescribed to your child.
For those with MIS-C, hospital admission is required. Treatment is supportive and focuses on reducing the inflammation.
What age group can get COVID? Can babies get COVID?
Everyone from newborns to the elderly can get and transmit COVID, regardless of prior infection and in some cases, vaccination status.
In rare cases, pregnant mothers have been observed to pass the virus to the baby. Newborns may also contract it after birth. Generally they recover well with mild symptoms, if any, although severe cases have occurred. After discharge from the hospital it is a good practice to limit the number of people visiting the new baby; they may be carrying the virus.
For toddlers and older children, limit sharing of toys and other things outside the 'bubble', or the people and environment the child interacts with on a daily basis. The child can contract COVID and transmit it to the older members of the household while remaining asymptomatic themselves, or having very mild symptoms.
We hope this article has been of use. If you or your family have tested positive and are home quarantined, and you are wondering how to access proper healthcare and support, please click the button below to know more about our Complete COVID Care Program.