Written by Ashwin Dewan and published on 13 May 2021.
With COVID-19 cases rising by the day, parents are getting anxious not only for their own health but that of their children as well. This article looks at the answers to some common questions regarding COVID-19 in children
The second wave of COVID-19 has taken everyone unawares. With the pandemic sweeping through the entire country, resulting in some alarming statistics, it's a worrying time for everyone. Especially for parents, with many experts now warning that the third wave might possibly impact children the most. It's a vulnerable age group since no vaccines have yet been developed for pediatric use against the pandemic.
However, there is no cause for panic. By following the same hygiene and safety protocols, we can keep our little ones safe and away from the virus.
To help you with the same, the Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) has listed a number of common questions related to the virus in children along with the answers.
Disclaimer by the IAP: The following information is based on research and evidence available till April 2021.
Q. Is the second wave more serious than the first wave?
A. Compared to the first wave, the number of people infected is much higher in the second wave. Proportionately, the total number of cases of coronavirus infections in children increased. This is probably due to a mutated (changed) virus in a setting where the population was careless about the many precautions to be taken such as social distancing, masking, and hand hygiene.
Q. How can I prevent coronavirus infection in my child?
A. There are no medicines or pills to prevent coronavirus infection in any person, yet. Recently, vaccines have been made available as a protection against the virus but it has not yet been okayed for pediatric use. Only strict precautions of handwashing, proper mask usage, and social distancing can prevent it. Avoiding public functions, avoiding social gatherings, and avoiding group play are some ways we can prevent children and adults from being infected.
Q. How can we know whether fever in a child is a sign of COVID-19 or general malaise?
A. In the current scenario, it is difficult to know the difference. So every instance of fever or cough in children should be dealt with seriousness keeping COVID-19 as a possibility, especially if a family member is suffering or has recently been infected with the coronavirus.
Q. What are the common features of coronavirus infection in children?
A. Cold, mild cough, fever, and body pain are the common coronavirus symptoms in kids. In the second wave, it has been noted that other symptoms such as pain in the abdomen, loose motions, and vomiting are also present in infected children.
Q. When should parents test the child for coronavirus infection?
A. A child should be tested under the following conditions
Q. Which test should people opt for in case of suspected infection of COVID-19?
A. Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) for coronavirus disease and PCR-based nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT) are the preferred tests.
The Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) is the second option. However, a negative test result needs confirmation by PCR.
Q. Is it necessary for children to wear masks?
A. Yes, masks need to be worn by all children above the age of 2 years (Indian Academy of Pediatrics (IAP) recommendation). Children below 2 years need not use the mask - as it might raise safety concerns.
Q. Are children at more risk due to COVID-19 as compared to adults?
A. Compared to adults, only a small proportion of children may develop serious complications. More than 60% to 70% of infected children are asymptomatic. Of the remaining symptomatic, about 1% to 2% need proper medical care.
Q. Which category of children are at more risk of the coronavirus?
A. Children with pre-existing diseases of the heart, kidney, liver, those with low immunity, obesity, etc., are at greater risk of being infected with the coronavirus as compared to other children.
Q. Is there any home remedy that I can use for my child?
A. If you feel your child is infected with the coronavirus, record temperature and oxygen saturation with a pulse oximeter, if available at home, every six hours. If your child's fever is constantly beyond the normal body temperature, give paracetamol 10-15mg (ones approved for pediatric use).
Ensure your child consumes a light diet with plenty of liquids. Give Vitamin C, zinc supplements to boost immunity.
Q. How do I know if my child is serious?
A. This is important to know and the following five symptoms need to be monitored at home.
1. High fever lasting beyond four or five days
2. Decreasing oral intake by the child
3. The child becomes lethargic
4. Increase in the respiratory rate
5. Oxygen saturation drops below 95% when at rest
In such a situation, you should rush your child to a nearby medical facility for further evaluation.
Q. My child tested positive 1 week ago. He is due for his scheduled vaccine after 2 weeks. How do I go about it?
A. Routine immunization can be continued 2 weeks after the child is asymptomatic (of COVID-19 infection). If a child needs some higher medications, which suppresses the components of immunity of the patient, scheduled immunization needs to be deferred for three months after the medication.
Q. Can a breastfeeding mother take the COVID-19 vaccine?
A. As per the present guidelines, the vaccine is not being given to pregnant and breastfeeding ladies.
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For resources to keep children actively engaged indoors, click here.