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Kids, Teens Usually Have Mild COVID-19 Infections, Rarely Fatal Ones: Study

TUESDAY, Sept. 1, 2020 (HealthDay News)

Severe COVID-19 is rare in kids and teens, and death is exceptionally rare, occurring only in those with serious underlying conditions, according to a new study.

The study, published Aug. 27 in the BMJ, also showed that Black children have a disproportionately high rate of severe COVID-19 illness.

For the study, the researchers analyzed data from 651 children and teens with COVID-19 who were admitted to 138 hospitals in England, Scotland and Wales between mid-January and early July.

During a minimum follow-up of two weeks, 18% of the patients were admitted to critical care, with the highest risk among those who were Black, younger than 1 month of age or between 10 and 14 years old.

Six children (1%) died in the hospital, and all of these patients had significant underlying health issues. That death rate is “strikingly low” compared with 27% across all ages over the same time period, the study authors said in a journal news release.

Eleven percent of the young patients met World Health Organization (WHO) criteria for multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a rare condition believed to be linked to COVID-19. These children were older (average age: 10.7 years) and more likely to be non-white, the findings showed.

Children with MIS-C were more likely to be admitted to critical care; have symptoms such as fatigue, headache, muscle pain and sore throat; and have a low blood platelet count, according to the study. There were, however, no deaths among patients with MIS-C.

The study provides a detailed picture of the clinical characteristics, risk factors and outcomes of COVID-19 in children, and should also help refine WHO criteria for MIS-C, according to lead author Malcolm Semple, a professor of outbreak medicine and child health at the University of Liverpool, and colleagues.

Children and teens account for between 1% and 2% of COVID-19 cases worldwide, and the vast majority of reported infections in these young people are mild or asymptomatic.

— Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: BMJ, news release, Aug. 27, 2020

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