Written by Dr.ssa Federica Vagnarelli (Danat Al Emarat Hospital for Women & Children – Abu Dhabi)
What is the risk for a child to get infected with COVID-19?
From the epidemiological data available to date, children seem much less affected by adults but they can be a reservoir of infection for their parents and grandparents. Children are by definition careless of hygiene .... They touch everything, sneeze without protection and they often have running noses. Now more than ever, it is crucial to give them adequate instructions and behavior patterns on how to prevent the spreading of the virus.
It is not yet clear whether children with previous chronic diseases such as heart disease or diabetes are at greater risk of infection and of complications.
How We Can Protect Kids from Covid-19?
The following “to do list” can certainly help in limiting the spread of the virus and the probability of infection. Some of these such as hand washing and disinfection of toys should be shown and taught to children from an early age, others must be parents and caregivers’ responsibility:
- Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and water. Alternatively use disinfectant gel.
- Do not touch your hands, face, mouth and eyes with dirty hands.
- Stay at safe distance at least 1 m from people with respiratory symptoms (cough cold) or fever.
- Cover your mouth and nose while coughing or sneezing
- Carefully collect used disposable masks and handkerchiefs in a closed container
- Disinfect with chlorine-based products all the surfaces of the house that are often touched e.g. handles, remote controls, laptops, iPads, kitchen surfaces, mobile-phone, light switches, sinks and bathroom surfaces
- Wash/disinfect toys often, especially those that are shared with siblings and friends. Stuffed toys are potential reservoirs of the virus and should often be washed at the maximum allowed temperature
Are the symptoms of COVID-19 infection in pediatric age different from those of adults?
No. The symptoms of infection in pediatric age do not differ from those of adults.
From the first epidemiological data, it seems that children usually have milder symptoms than adults: colds, coughs, little fever. Sporadic cases of vomiting and diarrhea have been reported.
Is it advisable for children to wear a mask?
No. If the child has no respiratory symptoms, there is no need to wear a mask.
The mask has to be used only in case of respiratory symptoms or in the case of a sick person.
Can a mother with COVID -19 continue breastfeeding?
Yes.. A mother infected with COVID-19 can continue breastfeeding.
In the few reported cases, COVID-19 has been not found in breast milk. Instead, it is important that the infant continues to take the mother's milk and the specific antibodies it contains.
Special precaution will be adopted by the mother regarding adequate breast and hand hygiene before feeding and the use of a protective mask.
IMPORTANT: Never as at this time of Pandemic, it is of primary importance that children have received adequate vaccination coverage for other Viruses and Bacteria as recommended by the treating pediatrician.
CDC, COVID -19 and Children, 2020
Recommendations FIMP (Italian Federation of Pediatricians), 2020
UNICEF: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): What parents should know, Feb 2020