COVID-19 symptoms in children and what you need to know about a rare post-viral syndrome


When the new coronavirus invaded the United States, public health messages focused on the most vulnerable: older Americans and those with underlying illnesses, such as heart and lung disease.

Young people, especially children, appear to be largely protected, and research has maintained this message.

In a April study of more than 2,500 American children and adolescents with COVID-19, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that those under 18 accounted for only 1.7% of all cases of coronaviruses reported, although they up to 22 percent of the population.

Most of the infected children had mild or asymptomatic cases, similar to the Chinese CDC’s research. Only 14% or less of children aged 1 to 17 with the disease were admitted to hospital.

But new reports of children with COVID-19 suffering and sometimes dying from a mysterious respiratory disease dubbed “Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome” naturally have parents on edge.

The syndrome affected at least 100 children and killed at least three in New York City only on May 12. In Europe, where it was reported earlier, there were at least 100 cases in seven countries as of April 30.

Here’s how to spot the symptoms of both conditions in your child:

COVID-19 symptoms in children are similar to those in adults

Like adults, children with COVID-19 may have the following symptoms:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Irritated throat
  • New loss of taste or odor

As with adults, this list is not exhaustive and continues to evolve as more and more people are tested and diagnosed.

For example, some people, including children, who test positive have other symptoms such as a runny nose, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Symptoms of rare inflammatory syndrome seen in children include gastrointestinal problems

Pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome appears to appear after children are given COVID-19.

While at first doctors were not sure if or how the disease was linked to the coronavirus, a study published May 13 in the Lancet found that there was a “strong association” between the two.

The best theory in the medical community is that the syndrome is “due to the patient’s immune response,” Jeffrey Burns, an acute care specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital, told CNN.

The syndrome has been compared to rare childhood illnesses such as Kawasaki disease or toxic shock syndrome. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, symptoms include:

  • Persistent fever
  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea, or vomiting
  • Rash or changes in skin color
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue or confusion

If you notice symptoms of either condition in your child, call your pediatrician.

This article was originally published by Business Insider.

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