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How Sick Can Kids Get From COVID-19? — What The Experts Are Saying

by | March 23, 2020

As the coronavirus, COVID-19, sweeps the globe at an alarming rate, many parents are asking whether their children are at risk of contracting the virus — and whether they could be faced with serious complications as a result.

The short answer is yes. While children are less likely to suffer serious complications or even death as a result of catching the sometimes-lethal and highly contagious COVID-19, evidence has shown that they are by no means immune to transmitting it, or even becoming seriously ill from exposure.

How Does The Illness Appear In Children?

According to the CDC, most children who do contract the virus present with symptoms milder than adults in the same boat. While the most common symptoms to appear in children are similar to those of a cold — fever, runny nose, and a cough — some also experience nausea or vomiting.  

COVID-19 Patient
While older populations are at the greatest risk, young people are by no means immune (Mongkolchon Akesin/Shutterstock.com)

What Conditions Impact Risk Factor?

The CDC has stated that data on existing health conditions and COVID-19 in children is not yet conclusive.

That said, according to the government of Canada webpage, a number of existing health conditions could put individuals at a higher risk of severe illness as a result of contracting the virus. These include heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases and cancer. Medical treatments or conditions that leave patients immunocromprimised, such as chemotherapy, may also impact risk factor.

girl with covid-19 symptom fever
While a fever is one of the most notable symptoms of COVID-19, many carriers are asymptomatic (Aleksandra Suzi/Shutterstock.com)

How Many Children Have Become Sick From COVID-19?

While it’s impossible to say for sure how many children have become sick from COVID-19 globally, especially given that many will have mild symptoms and not require medical treatment or hospitalization, data from Wuhan demonstrates that they are by no means entirely safe in the face of the virus.

Peer-reviewed data published in Pediatics, which covers cases in Wuhan between January 16 and February 8 of this year, showed that children of all ages were susceptible to catching and becoming ill from the virus. 

With 731 lab-confirmed and 1,412 suspected cases in pediatrics, infants and young children were shown to be at greatest risk. More than 10 percent of COVID-19 cases in patients under the age of one resulted in severe or critical illness.

One boy, a 14-year-old, tragically died after contracting COVID-19.

Read what the experts are saying on protecting your children from COVID-19 here.

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