A new study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on Thursday assured the parents that coronavirus in children hasn’t caused the death of any healthy school-age children in the UK and also severe illness and death remain very rare in children from the virus. According to them, children’s risk of needing to be admitted to the hospital is ‘tiny’ and them needing critical care is even tinier. However, very young babies, obese children, and black children have a slightly higher risk, according to the study.
The researchers from different institutions in the UK analyzed 651 coronavirus patients from 138 hospitals aged 19 or less across Wales, Scotland, and England between January and July. These young covid19 patients accounted for nearly 1% of the patients in those hospitals during the time. 1% of those patients or six to be exact died in the hospital, in contrast, 27% coronavirus patients of all ages died during that time in hospitals. Moreover, 18% of those patients needed critical care and people of black ethnicity were significantly associated with admission to critical care, the researchers wrote.
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The most common symptoms among the patients were vomiting, cough, fever, nausea, and shortness of breath. The researchers also discovered that around 11% or 52 patients met the criteria of multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) in children, which is a worrying complication due to covid19 and causes inflammation in different body parts. Children who met the criteria for MIS-C were more likely to be of non-White ethnicity and were significantly older. They were also 5 times more likely to need critical care. Moreover, the six children who died already had underlying health conditions.
Professor Calum Semple from the university of Liverpool and also the author of the study said that there have been no deaths in otherwise healthy school-age children. He also said that there is no direct harm from children going back to the schools. Dr. Olivia Swann, co author of the study, hopes that the discoveries made by the study would be assuring for parents across the UK.
Professor of pediatric rheumatology at the University of Bristol Athimalaipet Ramanan said that it is an observational study of children who are hospitalized and there are limitations as not all the cases have been captured in the study. He also believes that the study does not account for the true occurrence of coronavirus in children. However, he believes that it’s an important study as it is likely that most children with a noteworthy illness would have been admitted to the hospitals, said Ramanan who was not a part of the study.
Infectious Disease lead at the Royal College of Pediatrics and Child Health in Britain Dr. Liz Whittaker did not take part in the study but believe that the findings are reassuring. She said that very low numbers of children have been admitted to critical care and also a very low death rate was reported by the researchers for coronavirus in children particularly when compared to the death rate for adults. Dr. Whittaker added that the parents and pediatricians should be reassured by the findings of this paper.
It is still not clear however, that which of the patients from the study were admitted to the hospital because of covid19 and which had been admitted for some other disease and contracted the virus in the hospital. More research is needed to know that if the similar findings would emerge among young patients around the globe.