Lesser cases of Covid were detected in the children last year, however, this is not the case today. In the second wave of COVID-19, many children have tested positive for the infection. As innocent minds are unaware of the seriousness of the situation, their guardians must be more conscious and aware of the details regarding COVID in children. At Medicircle we are presenting a series of “COVID in children” where we aim to raise awareness about the impact of COVID-19 in children.
Dr.Bharath Reddy is a pediatric pulmonologist associated with Shishuka Children’s Hospital, Cloudnine Kids Hospital, and Indira Gandhi Institute of Child Health in Bangalore. He completed his fellowship in pediatric pulmonology and sleep from the National University Hospitals. His key work areas of work include respiratory infections, respiratory allergies, asthma, pediatric sleep ventilation, and congenital respiratory diseases. Apart from being a highly trained pathologist, Dr.Bharath has presented over 20 scientific presentations at various national and international conferences and written book chapters and original manuscripts. He has also awarded his credit
Reasons for the increase in infection in children
There are various reasons for the rise of infections in children and the reason is multifold.
Contact with other children: One of the major reasons why COVID is on the high rise in children this time is because the kids are let out to play. During the last lockdown, the kids did not come in contact with other children. So before this wave, we found a lot of children were allowed to play and go out of our apartments. There is a high level of interaction which has resulted in contact with children.
The variant of coronavirus: This year we are seeing a peculiar behavior of the virus itself. It's beginning to affect children more than adults. But it is important to note that children are affected as well but fortunately many are doing well. We have not seen any high mortality in children. Many of them can be managed at home. So these are the reasons for the high number.
The need for vaccination this pandemic for children below 18 years of age
Dr.Reddy further says, “We are also worried as the pandemic progresses, as adults start getting vaccinated, children can get affected as well. So, during this third wave of the pandemic, we should anticipate that more children will get affected because the adults are getting vaccinated. As per the current data, a large number of positive cases were seen below the age of 50 years of age and a huge number which is nearly 10 - 12 % are seen below the age of 18 years. This means that it is required to start vaccination of people below 18 years.”
The mental state of the child this pandemic
Dr. Reddy says, “It is a difficult situation not only for parents but also for children. It is very difficult for the children to be confined in those four walls as compared to adults. So a lot of children will feel lonely, isolated, and scared. I see a lot of children coming with panic and anxiety attacks. For example, I have seen children coming up with heavy breathing which is being diagnosed with panic attacks. It is important to understand why children are getting anxious because the parents are getting anxious. We should not transmit the anxiety to our children. Parents themselves are living in fear and transmitting to their children. We are hearing about deaths in families, people getting sick, and getting anxious about the same. But we should not transmit it to our children.
Media exposure is creating a negative impact
Dr. Reddy informs, “We are living in fear because of media exposure. We are watching single news every day about cremation and dead bodies piling up. We should not show this to our children and protect them from media overload. This should be taken care especially in the case of teenagers because they are exposed to the media. Media can dramatize a whole lot of things. This causes a lot of psychological trauma to the child. Also, children are scared to stay away from their parents. Children especially 1-3 years of age are highly prone to get exposed to the virus. But there is no need to panic and to separate from them.”
Ensure children follow instructions
Dr. Reddy states, “A lot of parents underestimate how much children follow instructions. Children are making sure to wear masks. Children are more careful about putting on their masks and walking in hospitals than adults. Today children have lived through the pandemic for 1 year. Most of the children understand why it is important to wear a war mask. All you need to do is to tell your children about basic protocols. Children understand better and we need to talk to them.
Maintain a schedule: In this pandemic, our entire schedule is gone for a toss. A lot of our activities and routines are not maintained. So parents need to maintain a routine for their children. The moment we maintain the routine of our childlike their sleep time, wake up time should be fixed. Kids must know that they have a routine schedule which is a must and they don't think about different things. When you don't have a routine, it results in kids getting anxious and upset.
Listen to your kids: If your kids are worried about something, let them talk. Do not talk about pandemics. If they want to talk, it is important to listen to them. It is important for us to listen to them, talk to them and explain to them. Ensure that you spend time with children. Spending quality time at home should look like a boon and positive aspect to do activities, play games, and enjoy the correct time. We need to support each other emotionally during these times.
Lung infection is a common pandemic in children
Dr.Reddy says, “As a pediatric specialist, I am seeing a large number of cases in kids with a lung infection in this COVID pandemic. We are able to do teleconsultation and manage them at home. There are a large number of hospital admissions as well. Fever and gastroenteritis is a very common infection these days. There are some children coming up with complaints of skin rashes which is a very common complaint in this COVID. We need to understand that we are seeing a lot of children with diarrhea, vomiting, and rashes. Some are showing up with lung infection in the form of fever, cough, and difficulty in breathing. But we are not admitting the children in the hospitals. It's very rare. Cases of vomiting, diarrhea in children may lead to dehydration which may require IV fluids and supportive treatment. Many of them are recovering well. So it's a good sign, as the number of children requiring oxygen is very less.”
(Edited by Dr.Rati Parwani)