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COVID-19 and the Pediatric Population

a mother sanitizing her child's hands

​​​​​​​​​​​We are living in an unprecedented time as COVID-19 has spread throughout the world. As we continue to learn more about this virus and its effect on children, we stay up to date with current recommendations by trusted organizations.

Symptoms of COVID-19 typically begin 2-14 days after being exposed to the virus. These include fever, chills, shortness of breath, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, and possibly loss of taste or smell. However, if the child has a high fever that is persistent, trouble breathing and not eating or drinking well, call your pediatrician. If the child seems to be worsening, he or she should be seen in the emergency department.

We understand that many parents may wonder if their child should be tested for coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19. Currently, there are two types of tests. The PCR nasal swab is performed on a person with current symptoms.

The antibody test is appropriate for any child that may have been exposed to COVID-19 and no longer has symptoms. It is also recommended for a child with no symptoms that had exposure to a known case. Antibodies are proteins that are developed by the immune system whose job is to fight and get rid of antigens. By performing antibody testing, the doctor is able to determine if the child was previously infected by coronavirus. At this time, there is no evidence that antibodies protect the child from being infected again.

It is extremely important that parents and caregivers heed instructions by local authorities regarding social distancing to keep their children as safe as possible. Children can be taught to wash their hands and cover their cough. Simple cloth face coverings are also appropriate for children over the age of 2 and able to remove the mask on their own.

Over the last few weeks, there have been reports of a new condition that has been emerging around the world in children. It appears to be a rare syndrome associated with COVID-19. Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (PMIS) causes inflammation to blood vessels and arteries that can ultimately cause heart damage.

PMIS is similar to Kawasaki Disease, which is a disease characterized by inflammation of blood vessels. Symptoms of PMIS include fever lasting more than 5 days, severe abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, trouble breathing, chest pain, skin rash, bloodshot eyes, difficulty feeding, confusion, swelling of hands and feet, cracking or redness to tongue or lips, and swollen neck lymph nodes.

At this time, PMIS appears to be a syndrome that develops after a child has had COVID-19 and is not considered contagious. Doctors are still learning more about PMIS as new cases emerge. Most children who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have not developed PMIS. The syndrome is diagnosed by history, physical exam and lab testing and can be treated.
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