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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.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on COVID-19 and kids.

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

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