Since the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 first emerged in the United States, it has been a whirlwind of emotions for parents. As schools and offices shut down, lives were turned upside down. Even deeper though than this inconvenience, parents worried about how this new disease would affect their children’s health. Were children who are already sick so much of the time more susceptible to catching this disease?
Since COVID-19 hit other countries before the United States, there was some information available about how it impacted children. From the start, parents were assured that although medical professionals weren’t exactly sure why, kids seemed to suffer very few, if any symptoms if they contracted this particular coronavirus. One belief was that since children were more likely to have frequent sniffles and colds, they may have some built in immunity from already having these other coronaviruses.
Flash-forward a few months and those same parents who breathed a sigh of relief about the wellbeing of their children had it quickly snatched away. There appeared to be a new complication albeit rare that was causing children to become very sick. Doctors were referring to this complication as Pediatric Multisymptom Inflammatory Syndrome. Parents were told that these complications were rare but warned to be on the lookout for symptoms and once again were on edge.
As erratic as this information seemed, the message remained consistent. Children were not immune to COVID-19 but overall they fared far better than adults. Additionally, even though some children did get very sick and the disease could be fatal for them, this happened very rarely. What has been a bigger concern has been the role they play in transmitting the virus to others. Kids may do better than adults but if they were able to transmit the disease, they might be even more dangerous if they rarely showed symptoms. Now a new study is giving parents even more hope about this matter.
In a recent study published by Nature Medicine, children under the age of 20 were observed. The study discovered that not only did kids seem to suffer milder symptoms but they seemed to be less likely to contract the illness in the first place. The study showed that on average kids seemed to be half as likely to get the disease as adults. That number ranged from as low as 35% and as high as 60% less likely.
There is still much to be learned and that is being learned about this new illness everyday. This study provides some reassurances though to parents and is helpful to camps, schools and daycares as they open up their doors throughout the summer and in the fall. While it was known that kids had milder symptoms from the very start of the pandemic, there were fears that they could be asymptomatic carriers of this contagious disease. With more information being learned about children and their role in transmitting the virus could be the key to restoring some level of normalcy to kids around the world.