Kids And COVID-19: What Parents Should Know

672

Within the last few weeks, a record-breaking number of kids in Michigan have been hospitalized with COVID-19—a scary turn of events, especially for those who may have thought children can’t get COVID-19, or that they can’t spread it to others.

“I work in both the hospital and the clinic, so I have personally seen this increase in children coming in with COVID-19,” says Jordan Kridler, M.D., a pediatrician with Henry Ford Health System. “I have seen more kids test positive for COVID-19 within the last few weeks than I did all of last year. This could be because of increased testing and new variants, along with the fact that in-person learning and school sports have resumed. It is completely false to say kids can’t get COVID-19 or that they cannot spread it to others.”

Compared with adults, kids are at a lower risk for contracting a serious case of COVID-19. But lower risk doesn’t mean no risk.

“We had a child the other day who was diagnosed with a life-threatening condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C," says Dr. Kridler. "In this syndrome, multiple organs such as the heart, lungs, kidney and brain can be affected. While we don’t know what causes it, we know it is associated with COVID-19. It indicates that the patient has either had COVID-19 or has been previously exposed to someone with COVID-19.”

Symptoms of MIS-C include fever, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes and fatigue. If your child shows any of these signs (and/or is experiencing difficulty breathing, chest pain, confusion and/or blue or gray lips or nail beds, which are symptoms of COVID-19), head to the emergency room right away. 

Children At High Risk For Developing Severe COVID-19 Infection

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that babies under a year old may be at a higher risk for developing a serious COVID-19 illness than children who are over one year old. “Unlike older children—who can tell you if they aren’t feeling well—babies cannot,” says Dr. Kridler. “So you may not realize babies have COVID-19 until they have progressed to a critical condition.” 

Children with certain health issues may also be at a higher risk for developing a serious COVID-19 illness, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Obesity
  • Asthma
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Heart disease originating from birth
  • Neurologic conditions
  • Immunocompromised conditions

“Children with these conditions are more likely to suffer more severe symptoms from COVID-19, but this is not always the case,” says Dr. Kridler. “That’s one of the difficult aspects of managing this virus. A severe asthmatic may recover fully, whereas someone with no underlying health conditions may have persistent symptoms. There is no way to predict this.”

Keeping Your Kids Safe—While Keeping Them Socialized

Parents have carried a heavy load this past year: simultaneously working while home schooling their children and ensuring their mental health has not been sacrificed.

“It is a really difficult situation because I do feel socialization and interaction with other kids is so important for child development,” says Dr. Kridler. “However, until a vaccine is available for children (which could be by this fall), I recommend following the CDC’s guidelines of staying socially distant and wearing masks in public.”

Dr. Kridler recommends researching safe, low-risk activities your kids can enjoy. Whether it’s a day camp, park or class, ensure there are guidelines in place that make sure kids stay at least three to six feet apart and that masks are worn at all times. 

“This has been a trying time for everyone, but I would encourage everyone to keep focusing on the science and research,” says Dr. Kridler. “Keep yourself updated on new developments in regard to COVID-19 and the vaccines, so that as a parent, you feel informed and make the best decisions for your children. Remember this will not last forever.”

Want more health and wellness advice?
Subscribe to receive a weekly email of our latest articles.

To find a pediatrician at Henry Ford, visit henryford.com or call 1-800-436-7936.

Learn about safety precautions at our facilities and details on our response to COVID-19.

Dr. Jordan Kridler is a board-certified pediatrician who sees patients at Henry Ford Medical Center – Royal Oak.

Categories: ParentWell