Infants and COVID-19: Everything You Need to Know

Young children and the elderly are more susceptible to the coronavirus because they have weaker immune systems than mature adults. If you have an infant at home, what should you do? 

How are Infants Diagnosed and Treated

According to associate professor of pediatrics at John Hopkins Medicine, Dr. Rachel Thornton, parents should continue going to their infant's scheduled checkups, especially with their vaccinations. She added that as pediatricians, they are helping the newborn babies grow up and develop properly and have immunization to prevent being infected with other illnesses. For her, it is essential to make sure the babies are safe from other diseases too. 

Professor and co-director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, Dr. David Kimberlin, said parents must call their pediatrician when babies show symptoms like fever. The pediatrician will help determine if the baby needs to be tested with COVID. 

In mild cases, babies will be treated to lower their fever. Only severe cases would require hospitalization. 

What are the Symptoms to Watch Out For

According to Thornton, here are the symptoms to watch out for: 

  • Fever of 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher
  • How well the baby is feeding
  • Alertness level of the baby
  • The baby's hydration level (are there tears when they cry? Do they wet their diapers?)
  • Difficult breathing

How to Protect Your Baby From the Coronavirus

Both Thornton and Kimberlin reiterate that parents should practice social distancing, sanitize surfaces, and wash their hands. Doing so will protect not only their infants but also the other members of the family. 

Here are tips to prevent the spread of the virus, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) on their website:

  • Wash hands often for at least 20 seconds. In case water and soap are not available, use hand sanitizers with 60 percent or more alcohol content. 
  • Protect your kids from the sick. 
  • Practice social distancing. Avoid crowded places.
  • Clean and disinfect home.
  • Teach kids to cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough, preferably into their arm or elbow. 
  • Wash your kids' toys and stuffed animals. 
  • Avoid traveling. 
  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, nose, and mouth. 
  • Follow local and state guidelines. 

Infant in Illinois Died

An infant in Illinois tested positive with the coronavirus and died last Saturday. The director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, Dr. Ngozi Ezike, said that this is the first time they had an infant death caused by COVID. He added that a full investigation is underway to confirm the cause of death.

With news that reports infants being infected with the coronavirus, parents of young children and babies are worried and are finding ways on how to protect their young ones from the virus causing this pandemic. 

Elders Have Higher Risk

Elders who have been infected with the virus have a higher risk. Most of them get hospitalized, however, the oldest has fewer chances of surviving the severe respiratory illness brought about by the virus. 

As of writing, there are already more than 850,000 cases reported all around the world. This means that more people have chances of getting it, including infants. 

Kimberlin told the "Good Morning America" that this is a new virus in the human population which is why everyone is susceptible except for those who have already been infected by it. He added that when numbers get that big, very rare and unusual situations always come with it. 

Kimberlin also said that since not many infants are being tested as positive with the virus, this means that they are less susceptible compared to the elderly. He added that if they [babies] were, then there would have been a lot of reports. He is not saying that it is impossible to happen, but the chance is slim. 

According to Kimberlin, it is still too early to say why the young ones have fewer chances of contracting the virus compared to the older ones because normally, children suffer more severe diseases but it does not appear that they are now. 

Thornton agrees with Kimberlin, reminding parents that there are still late winter and spring viruses circulating. Pediatricians are all aware of these circumstances. And parents need to be informed of how to care for their infants as well. 

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