11 Questions Every Parent Seems To Have

As we head into 12 months three of the COVID-19 pandemic, the updates and proposals for easy methods to keep secure from COVID, notably for kids, appear to be evolving as quick as a brand new variant in an unvaccinated inhabitants. (Sorry, pandemic humor.)

In all seriousness, as Omicron surges, the brand new steerage for kids’s vaccines, boosters, masking, and college security are transferring so rapidly it’s arduous for folks and caregivers to maintain up.

The result’s usually pandemic-related confusion: Are material masks sufficient? When is it secure for teenagers to return to high school based mostly on signs and testing? Is COVID actually as dangerous or worse than acquainted childhood illnesses just like the flu and RSV? And, most significantly, do I actually need to check my youngster for COVID each time they get a sniffle?

In the event you’re sick of asking folks within the group chat or on the playground (and getting very sturdy and certain incorrect opinions), we requested some actual consultants for the solutions to frequent questions.

Right here’s what they needed to say:

What are the COVID signs in kids?

Kids usually have signs identical to adults, together with a cough, fever, a runny nostril, and sore throat. The most recent improvement is that children with COVID can usually have croup, which causes a particular cough, hoarseness, and labored respiratory.

“For lots of the younger children I’ve been seeing, they current with croup,” mentioned Dr. Jennifer Shu, an Atlanta-based pediatrician.

Typically the one signs in infants are fussiness and elevated crying as a result of COVID could make them achy and uncomfortable. “The newborn could also be crying and you’ll’t pinpoint a motive for it,” she mentioned.

Kids additionally get a lack of style and odor, identical to adults, however they might have extra hassle articulating that than an grownup would, mentioned Dr. Dean Blumberg, chief of pediatric infectious illnesses at UC Davis Kids’s Hospital. Usually, children are likely to have a much less extreme sickness than adults.

How is Omicron affecting kids?

Sadly, hospitalizations are on the rise for kids, together with infants and toddlers too younger to be vaccinated.

The truth is, hospitalizations are on the highest level for the reason that begin of the pandemic, in line with CDC Director Rochelle Walensky.

My child at all times has a runny nostril, particularly in winter. Do I have to get them examined each time they’re stuffed up?

Testing each child for COVID day-after-day is “simply not sensible,” mentioned George Rutherford, a professor of pediatrics and epidemiology on the College of California, San Francisco. He doesn’t assume kids must be examined for each runny nostril except they’ve an publicity or signs of “extra extreme higher respiratory infections.”

Blumberg agreed and mentioned in terms of testing children, it is extra essential to deal with new signs; a baby might need a runny nostril resulting from allergic reactions or one thing else.

“In the event you don’t assume there’s something out of the peculiar together with your youngster, then you definitely don’t have to check due to signs comparable to a runny nostril,” he mentioned.

Nevertheless, Shu recommends that given the present state of the pandemic, it’s a good suggestion to err on the aspect of warning and check kids.

“We’re seeing a lot COVID in comparison with different chilly viruses, even greater than flu in my space,” she mentioned. “The overwhelming majority of viruses I’m seeing are COVID.”

She added, “There’s a ton. COVID can appear to be some other respiratory sickness.”

How correct are fast assessments for younger kids underneath the age of 5?

Rutherford mentioned there doesn’t seem like any distinction in how they carry out for kids versus adults. Fast assessments ought to work even when utilized in infants, consultants informed us.

That mentioned, false negatives are frequent in fast COVID assessments early in an an infection. Chances are you’ll have to retest after a unfavourable end result, notably if a baby has respiratory signs.

“The timing might be tough,” Shu mentioned. “In the event you don’t catch it on the suitable day the place there’s sufficient virus to set off that check to show constructive, it’s going to be a false unfavourable.”

A constructive end result on a fast antigen check is far more dependable basically (that means if the result’s constructive, your youngster nearly actually has COVID if additionally they have signs), though following up with a PCR check to verify is really helpful.

How sturdy is the proof that children in preschool or at any age must be carrying masks?

The proof for masking in preschool “is robust,” Rutherford mentioned, so long as the kid is over 2 years outdated, since they could be a suffocation danger for youthful kids. The information doesn’t come straight from preschools, however Rutherford mentioned there’s “actually good” proof for the effectiveness of masks in elementary colleges, and there’s no motive to assume preschools could be completely different.

Blumberg mentioned surgical masks present 60%–70% safety, and he prefers these over material masks, that are much less standardized. (Any masks is healthier than no masks.)

When Shu is selecting a surgical masks, she seems for one with an ASTM degree 3 certification that’s 3- or 4-ply, which tends to supply the very best safety. Your youngster can use a medical masks and a material masks over it to be further secure, or they’ll put on a KN95 or N95 masks if they’ll tolerate it.

Whereas N95s are available in smaller sizes and might be worn by kids, they are often more durable to breathe although, and it’s essential to discover a masks that matches effectively and {that a} youngster will truly put on.

“In the event that they aren’t snug carrying it, they received’t put on it in any respect,” Blumberg mentioned. Dad and mom of kids who’re immunocompromised might favor the higher safety that comes with an N95; some folks, he added, purchase a number of sorts to seek out one their youngster is snug with.

Youngsters usually adapt to mask-wearing (and carrying them appropriately) higher than adults, he mentioned. Letting children select and beautify masks can improve the probabilities that they’ll put on them.

Kids may play with the masks, get them moist by biting or chewing on them, or develop out of them extra rapidly than you’d assume, Shu mentioned, so it’s essential to swap them out as essential.

Some colleges/preschools let children come in with a unfavourable fast check, even once they have minor chilly signs. Others require no signs for twenty-four hours and a unfavourable PCR. Which coverage makes extra sense?

“You don’t need colds handed round colleges both, proper?” Rutherford mentioned. “However however, one of many causes now we have preschools is so dad and mom can go work. That is a good thing about it. And in the event you ship them house each time they sneeze, you are going to have quite a lot of sad dad and mom.”

Rutherford mentioned it is sensible for colleges to proceed to observe no matter pre-COVID illness insurance policies that they had in place, with an added layer of COVID testing for kids with extra extreme higher respiratory signs. However he mentioned this testing must be fast, not PCR, which normally takes a number of days to ship outcomes.

Blumberg mentioned it’s “comprehensible” that colleges would like that kids who’re having signs, like coughing, to remain house till they’re higher.

“Colleges could also be further delicate to respiratory signs, even in a setting of a unfavourable check,” Blumberg mentioned. “It simply makes everybody uncomfortable to be round someone who’s coughing or sneezing within the age of COVID.”

Shu recommends sticking to CDC tips if a baby does check constructive for COVID.

The CDC recommends that children who check constructive keep out of faculty for 10 days, which is a stricter guideline than for adults. The company lately shortened the isolation interval to five days for adults who’re asymptomatic, adopted by 5 extra days of mask-wearing.

It’s a special story for teenagers, who’re in school all day and need to take their masks off to eat lunch, train in fitness center class, and for different causes.

“It’s not like they’ll proceed to remain masked for the second 5 days of that 10-day isolation,” Shu mentioned.

How lengthy does COVID final in children?

Usually, COVD signs in kids can vary from very delicate or nonexistent to extra extreme, comparable to a excessive fever or chest ache, which can necessitate a hospital go to for oxygen, relying on different danger components and whether or not they’re vaccinated,

The signs can final as quick as at some point, Shu mentioned, however normally, it’s a couple of week or typically even longer.

“A number of my sufferers are having a cough linger for 3 to 4 weeks,” Shu mentioned.

How frightened ought to I be about my younger child getting lengthy COVID?

Extra analysis nonetheless must be achieved to find out how usually kids — particularly the youngest ones — get lengthy COVID, which may make folks sick for months.

Lengthy COVID, which may embrace reminiscence and sleep issues, fatigue, and shortness of breath, is extra frequent in adults than kids. And it’s extra frequent in older kids and teenagers than youthful children.

About 20% to 40% of teenagers who get contaminated might develop lengthy COVID, mentioned Blumberg. “In youthful kids, it’s much less, however we don’t have good numbers on that.”

Nevertheless, the signs are related in kids and may embrace fatigue and problem sleeping.

“Older kids will describe fuzzy considering, that they’re simply not in a position to assume clearly or they could have reminiscence points,” Blumberg mentioned. “These are the sort of lengthy COVID signs now we have been seeing in kids.”

Shu has an 11-year-old affected person who bought COVID early within the pandemic and misplaced his sense of odor and style for over a 12 months.

Different kids might not have the ability to be as lively in sports activities as prior to now resulting from chest ache, respiratory issues, and shortness of breath, she mentioned.

The place does COVID-19 fall on the dimensions of severity for childhood illnesses? Is it kind of critical than the flu or RSV?

About 100 to 150 kids die annually within the US from the flu, and 100 to 500 from the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Compared, greater than 800 kids have died of COVID within the US for the reason that begin of the pandemic. About 7.9 million kids within the US, or a couple of in 10, have examined constructive for COVID.

In 2020, COVID was the seventh-leading reason behind loss of life in kids within the US.

“So it’s worse than RSV and worse than influenza,” Blumberg mentioned. A part of the rationale that the mortality charge is so excessive with COVID is that nobody within the inhabitants had any immunity to this new virus.

As extra kids get vaccinated for COVID (as we do for different illnesses) or are uncovered to the virus, hopefully, fewer kids will get severely sick and die, he mentioned.

“Getting vaccinated is the most secure factor for kids,” he mentioned.

Is the COVID vaccine secure for teenagers?

Sure, it’s thought-about very secure. No kids have died resulting from vaccination, not like COVID, which as we mentioned might be doubtlessly life-threatening.

Greater than 9 billion doses of vaccine have been given worldwide, so there’s a “confirmed observe report,” Shu mentioned, however solely about 23% of kids 5 to 11 have been absolutely vaccinated, and about 62% of kids 12 to 17. The vaccine is now accepted for kids 5 and older, and children 12 and older can get vaccinated and a booster.

“I’m disillusioned that the numbers are so low,” she mentioned. Many kids who’re eligible will not be getting vaccinated.

“Any loss of a kid’s life is tragic, so why not attempt to keep away from that?” mentioned Shu, who’s a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics. “I usually have folks say in hindsight Gosh, I want I had gotten the vaccine. I’ve by no means had somebody say, Gosh, I want I hadn’t gotten the vaccine.”

How are you going to finest defend infants and kids who’re too younger to get vaccinated or put on masks?

As we mentioned, masks aren’t acceptable for kids underneath 2, and children underneath 5 can’t get vaccinated.

Most newborns may have some safety if their moms have been vaccinated or contaminated.

Vaccination is very really helpful for people who find themselves pregnant because of the excessive danger of COVID problems in being pregnant in addition to the power to generate antibodies that may be handed to the fetus.

“I do not assume infants are prone till after six months of life, as a result of they get quite a lot of maternal antibody transplacentally and thru breast milk,” Rutherford mentioned. “Now, after seven months, eight, 9 months, as maternal antibodies begin to wane, we all know of instances in younger kids, however they are not frequent in any respect.”

One of the simplest ways to guard kids is to ensure the folks round them put on masks, are vaccinated, and have had their boosters.

“Surrounding the infant with a ‘bubble’ of people who find themselves vaccinated is a good first step,” mentioned Dr. Danielle Zerr, head of pediatric infectious illnesses at Seattle Kids’s Hospital in an e mail. “As well as, relying on group transmission charges, different steps would come with avoiding crowds (particularly indoors), limiting shut interplay to simply the essential folks in your life who’re vaccinated, and avoiding contact with symptomatic folks.”

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