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Coronavirus In Kids Is Often Mild But Serious Illness Can Occur, CDC Says

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A new report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this week has found that, similar to what previous research has suggested, coronavirus in kids is typically mild, although serious illness can occur. In examining confirmed cases of COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the coronavirus, the CDC found that less than 2% of patients in the United States were children. And while serious illness can occur in pediatric patients, children were ultimately found to be less likely to experience fever or coughs or require hospitalization as a result of contracting the coronavirus when compared to adults.

To examine the effects of coronavirus on children in the United States, the CDC analyzed 149,082 laboratory-confirmed cases of coronavirus, according to a report released April 6. Of those 149,082 cases, 2,572 of them — or 1.7% — were found to have occurred in children under the age of 18. That means more than 98% of analyzed cases occurred in adults.

Of the confirmed pediatric patients analyzed, the CDC found the median age to be 11 years old. However, nearly one third of pediatric cases, or 32%, occurred in children aged 15 to 17 while children aged 10 to 14 made up 27% of known pediatric cases. Children aged 5 to 9 made up 15% of cases while children aged 1 to 4 years old made up 11% of cases. And infants less than 1 year of age comprised another 15%.

While data regarding symptoms was available for only 11% of pediatric patients, the CDC found that, of those cases with available data, only 56% reported experiencing a fever. In contrast, 71% of adult patients with known symptoms reported having a fever. The CDC saw similar findings when digging into symptoms like shortness of breath and cough. In fact, only 13% of pediatric cases reported shortness of breath and 54% reported cough. Among adults aged 18 to 64, however, 43% of patients reported shortness of breath and 80% reported a cough.

According to the CDC, myalgia, sore throats, headaches, and diarrhea were also less commonly reported among pediatric patients. What's more, hospitalization rates were also found to be lower among pediatric patients, with just 5.7% of all pediatric patients being hospitalized compared to 10% of adults.

Still, while much of the CDC's findings echo early research that has suggested children are less affected by coronavirus, serious illness does occur in those under the age of 18. In fact, three coronavirus-related deaths have been reported among U.S. pediatric patients, according to the CDC. These include a 6 to 7-week-old infant who died in Connecticut and an infant under the age of 1 who died in Illinois in late March.

"Whereas most COVID-19 cases in children are not severe, serious COVID-19 illness resulting in hospitalization still occurs in this age group," the CDC noted in the new report. "Social distancing and everyday preventive behaviors remain important for all age groups as patients with less serious illness and those without symptoms likely play an important role in disease transmission."