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It's nearly two years since the first case of COVID-19 was reported. Since then, the virus has spread in every part of the world, causing a global pandemic and turning lives upside down.
With the increasing infection rates, everyone is at risk of contracting the virus, and children are not spared. As the world continues to adapt to living with the pandemic, many people are doing everything they can to stay safe.
Unfortunately, many parents are not convinced that babies and kids can contract COVID-19.The big question that most people are grappling with is whether children can get the virus from their parents. Sadly, the straight answer is yes.
How COVID-19 virus spreads
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the COVID-19 virus is spread through cough, sneezing, speaking, breathing, singing, and even kissing. An infected person releases tiny particles of highly contagious saliva or cough and respiratory droplets in the air. If these are inhaled by another person, they can easily contract the virus.
Research indicates that the virus is spread when two people are in close contact, usually within one meter. So, suppose you have the virus and you hold, nurse, cuddle, or kiss your child or baby. If the respiratory droplets come into contact with your baby's eyes, mouth, or nostrils, they'll be infected. This will happen even if you were not exhibiting any virus symptoms.
Additionally, if your home is poorly ventilated and you tend to spend longer time indoors, your family may be at risk, especially if you often leave for a few errands out of the house.
Can a child get coronavirus?
Yes, they can. However, while everyone is at risk of the disease, the virus isn't as widespread in children as it is in adults.
Still, parents need to be aware that their children can easily contract the disease, exercise maximum caution, and follow the COVID-19 protocols to ensure everyone is safe. Similarly, infected children can also infect others with the virus. This is why you should teach them basic COVID-19 hygiene and safety guidelines.
Can newborn babies get COVID-19?
Yes. There's evidence that shows that infected, nursing mothers can pass the disease to their newborn babies. Newborns can become infected immediately after birth, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which reports that most newborns who tested positive for COVID-19 displayed little to no symptoms and have recovered fully.
However, severe cases have been reported. If you are an expectant mother, you should take maximum caution to keep yourself and your baby safe.
Common symptoms of coronavirus in babies and young children
Typically, coronavirus symptoms in children and babies are milder compared to adults. Some affected children may not even display signs until they are tested. Otherwise, common COVID-19 symptoms in both children and adults generally include:
- Persistent coughs
- Server fever or chills
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle aches and body pain
- Sore and painful throat
- Sudden loss of taste and smell
- Nausea or vomiting
Fever and cough are generally experienced by adults and children with coronavirus, while difficulty breathing is more common in adults than children.
Your child may also exhibit any of the following symptoms if they have malaria or pneumonia. As such, you should always stay alert and have your child diagnosed immediately. If you notice any of the following symptoms in your child, contact 911 immediately:
What are the chances of my child contracting COVID-19?
A report the American Academy of Pediatrics issued in October 2020 showed that about 3.6% of the 11% COVID-19 patients were children. The report further revealed that about 1.6% of the infected children were admitted in isolation.
What to do if your child develops COVID-19 symptoms
If your child develops a fever that's beyond 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or if it persists for more than 24 hours, contact your pediatrician, family doctor, or 911 immediately. Also, seek urgent medical attention if you notice any of the following symptoms in your child:
If your child has been diagnosed with coronavirus, the doctors will give you detailed instructions on testing, isolation and treatment.
How to protect your child from coronavirus
Since you are your children's most direct route of exposure to the virus, you should limit your contacts, avoid crowds, and wear masks to protect your family. Also, maintain the WHO protocols for COVID-19 prevention.
Do not expose your children to people who might be infected with the virus, even if they are family members. Below are other guidelines to adhere to, and they apply to all family members, including yourself:
- Maintain social distance: While it may be challenging to distance yourself from your baby, you can strive to protect them by wearing a mask when you're near them. Ensure you wash your hands before holding or nursing your child, and most importantly, keep your child away from other people who might infect them.
- Supervise the children when playing: Let them maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet when playing with other children. Check with your child's school or daycare to confirm if these measures are being taken.
- Limit playdates and sleepovers with other children, and teach them to wear masks properly.
- Hand hygiene: Teach your children how to wash their hands regularly with soap and water or use a sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol content. This should be done after touching possible contaminated surfaces, interacting with other people or children, and before taking meals.
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BBC Work-life: "Coronavirus: Will Our Day To Day Lives Ever Be The Same?"
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: "How To Protect Yourself," "Covid 19 Transmission," "Breastfeeding and Caring for Newborns.?"
John Hopkins Medicine: "Coronavirus in Babies and Kids: Symptoms and Prevention," "COVID-19 Resources For Babies And Children."
Kids Health Organization: "Coronavirus (COVID-19): How to Protect Babies and Toddlers."
National Library of Biotechnology Information: "Alcohol Sanitizer."
World Health Organization: "Clinical Management of COVID-19," "Covid 19 Timeline," "Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) advice for the public." "Transmission of COVID-19 by Asymptomatic Cases."
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