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COVID-19 In Children: Obesity, Neurological Disease May Up Your Child’s Risk Of Severe Disease

Now that schools are reopening and life is slowly getting back to normal, knowing the risk factors will help parents, teachers and doctors plan ahead to keep kids safe.

COVID-19 affects adults and children in different ways. A new study identifies the risk factors that may lead to severe disease in children.

Written by Jahnavi Sarma |Updated : September 16, 2021 11:31 AM IST

According to experts, the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic may affect mainly children. This may be, partially, due to the lack of vaccine protection for children. But whatever the reason, it is a cause of worry. This virus has also attacked adults more though some children have reported complications like heart inflammation. Most of the studies have focussed on COVID-19 disease severity and associated complications in adults and the same in children have, by and large, been neglected. But with the warning bells ringing, scientists are now looking into how this virus can affect children and cause severe disease. A recent study by a group of physicians at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt sought to determine the factors that may be responsible for severe disease and poor prognosis in children. The study, titled 'Factors Associated with COVID-19 Disease Severity in U.S. Children', is published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine

Identifying the risk factors for severe disease in children

For the purpose of the study, the group of physicians analysed data from 45 children's hospitals around the country. With the data of 20,000 patients, this is the largest multi-center study of children with COVID-19 in the United States. The main aim of the researchers was to identify the risk factors that may lead to poor health outcomes for children.

Co-morbidities that may lead to poor prognosis

The study noted that around 1 out of every 4 children admitted to hospital with COVID-19 went on to develop severe disease. Many of them also required ICU care during their hospital stay. The researchers identified several factors that may increase disease severity and cause complications in children if they are infected with the COVID-19 virus. These include:

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  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Neurologic conditions
  • Any other underlying health conditions

Keep your child safe

Children remain susceptible to severe disease mainly because there are no vaccines available for them yet. Therefore, this study can help caretakers and childcare institutes to plan preventive strategies for children less than 12 years of age. The results of this study can help identify vulnerable children and they can be prioritised for COVID-19 vaccines, say the researchers. Now that schools are reopening and life is slowly getting back to normal, knowing the risk factors will help parents, teachers and doctors plan ahead to keep kids safe.

Strategies that will help

Researchers say that there are many practical strategies that can help to limit the spread of this deadly viral infection among children. Here, we list a few of them.

  • Make wearing of face mask compulsory.
  • Social distancing is a must, and its importance cannot be undermined.
  • Teach kids to wash their hands frequently with soap and water.
  • Schools must ensure that classrooms are well ventilated.
  • Parents must ensure that their kids are not exposed to symptomatic people.
  • Parents must instil the importance of following COVID-19 protocols in their children.

(With inputs from IANS)

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