What Parents Need to Know About COVID-19 in Children
The following is a summary of recommendations to parents from the CDC as of May 26, 2020
Children with COVID-19
Children with COVID-19 usually have mild cold-like symptoms, such as fever, runny nose, and cough. Some also have vomiting and diarrhea. The vast majority of COVID-19 cases in children are mild, although some children have rarely required hospitalization. The majority of children hospitalized for COVID-19 have had at least one underlying medical condition such as asthma, other lung disease, heart disease, and/or conditions that weaken the immune system.
Face Covering Guidelines for Children
The CDC recommends that all people 2 years and older wear a cloth face covering that covers their nose and mouth when they are out in the community. Cloth face coverings should NOT be put on babies or children younger than 2 because of the danger of suffocation; nor should they be used by anyone who has trouble breathing or is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the face covering without assistance.
Wearing cloth face coverings is a public health measure people should take to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in addition to (not instead of) social distancing, frequent hand cleaning, and other everyday preventive actions. A cloth face covering is not intended to protect the wearer but may prevent the spread of virus from the wearer to others. This would be especially important if someone is infected but does not have symptoms. Medical face masks and N95 respirators are still reserved for healthcare personnel and other first responders, as recommended by current CDC guidance.
What is MIS-C?Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) is a rare condition in which different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Many cases of MIS-C have been identical to the multisystem inflammatory syndrome called Kawasaki Disease which results from an immune reaction triggered by a variety of respiratory viruses, including coronaviruses. Kawasaki Disease was first recognized in 1970. Many children with MIS-C had the virus that causes COVID-19, or had been around someone with COVID-19. Like Kawasaki Disease, MIS-C can be serious, even deadly, but most children who have been diagnosed with this condition have gotten better with medical care.
What do you do if you think your child is sick with MIS-C?
Contact your child's doctor, nurse, or clinic right away if your child is showing symptoms of MIS-C:
- Abdominal pain
- Neck pain
- Bloodshot eyes
- Swollen hands, feet, limbs
- Feeling extra tired
Be aware that not all children will have all the same symptoms.
Seek emergency care right away if your child is showing any of these emergency warning signs of MIS-C:
- Trouble breathing
- Pain or pressure in the chest that does not go away
- New confusion
- Inability to wake or stay awake
- Bluish lips or face
- Severe abdominal pain
How will doctors care for your child?
Doctors may do certain tests to look for inflammation or other signs of disease. These tests might include:
- Blood tests
- Chest x-ray
- Heart ultrasound (echocardiogram)
- Abdominal ultrasound
Doctors may provide supportive care for symptoms (medicine and/or fluids to make your child feel better) and may use various medicines to treat inflammation. Most children who become ill with MIS-C will need to be treated in the hospital. Some will need to be treated in the pediatric intensive care unit (ICU). This is a rare condition and the majority of children who have become ill with this syndrome survive.