We’re still learning about the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the illness (COVID-19) it causes. Research on kids and COVID-19 is ongoing. Updated guidance on mother-neonate contact, emphasizing the importance of maternal autonomy in the medical decision making process. So far, scientists know that this coronavirus typically appears to make babies and kids less sick than it makes adults. Children and babies may also have different symptoms. The novel corona virus is still quite new, and scientists are learning more about it every week. Data current as of summer 2020 suggests 2 to 5 percent of newborns test positive for COVID-19 within 24 to 96 hours of delivery if mom is positive as well. That’s a pretty small but significant group.
Symptoms for covid 19 in kids
Newborn babies and babies under the age of 1 year with COVID-19 typically have mild symptoms. The virus also seems to get out of their system faster. Some newborn babies with COVID-19 tested negative by day 6. This means that their body may have more immune cells that can attack the coronavirus. This doesn’t explain why some newborns have no symptoms, though. Babies and children can have a range of COVID-19 symptoms including:
- Changes in mood or behavior such as sleeping more or less often, feeding difficulties, or more frequent tantrums because of pain or a fever
- Stomach pain
- Feeling sleepy
- Loss of sense of smell that, in infants who are too young to express this symptom, may manifest as changes in eating habits
- Runny nose
- Muscle aches. that may cause frequent crying, trouble sleeping, or moodiness in young babies
- Not feeding much / loss of appetite
Some newborn babies may also have breathing problems and other symptoms of pneumonia caused by the coronavirus. This is because they have tinier airways and new immune systems that haven’t started working properly yet. All three babies were delivered by a cesarean (C-section) because the mothers had COVID-19 symptoms, including pneumonia. All three babies developed symptoms, and one of them needed help breathing right after birth.
- Diagnosis should be confirmed by testing for SARS-CoV-2 RNA by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Detection of SARS-CoV-2 RNA can be collected using nasopharynx, oropharynx, or nasal swab samples.
- Serologic testing is not recommended at this time to diagnose acute infection in neonates.
- In areas with limited testing capacity, testing should be prioritized for neonates with signs suggestive of COVID-19 as well neonates with SARS-CoV-2 exposure requiring higher levels of care or who are expected to have prolonged hospitalizations (>48-72 hours depending on delivery mode).
If your baby or child has mild COVID-19 symptoms, you can likely care for them at home about the same way you would if they had the flu.
- children’s pain medication
- fever reducers (acetaminophen, ibuprofen)
- cough syrup
- air humidifier
- chicken broth
- orange juice
- oxygen therapy
- ventilation (in extremely severe situations)
Can your child spread coronavirus?
Just like adults, babies and children can spread the coronavirus — and our understanding of its spreadnis rapidly evolving. In July 2020, the AAP released a report noting the limited data on the topic found that children transmit the disease far less often than adults.
How to protect your new born
However, when compared to older kids, infants may be at greater risk of serious illness if they do contract the virus (which, given that newborns’ immune systems aren’t fully matured, may not come as a huge shock). “We do know that infants under 1 year of age require hospitalization at a higher rate than older children
If you and other people in your household are healthy and haven’t knowingly been exposed to COVID-19, Golioto recommends doing the following to protect your newborn at home:
- Wash your hands regularly and properly
- Try to minimize trips outside of your home
- Mothers should wear a mask and practice hand hygiene during all contact with their neonates. Of note, plastic infant face shields are not recommended and masks should not be placed on neonates or children younger than 2 years of age.
- Wearing a mask or other face covering when out in public
- Practicing physical distancing when contact with people outside the household is necessary
- Don’t allow any visitors
- Sanitize baby bottles and pacifiers at least once a day
Is it safe to breast feed?
More research is needed, but two medical studies found that there wasn’t any corona virus in the breast milk of mothers with COVID-19. One study published in the lancet analyzed the breast milk of nine women with confirmed cases of COVID-19 and found no evidence of the virus in their milk. Doctors think its likely safe to breastfeed your baby with the right protection. And breast milk offers important benefits, so if you were planning to breastfeed or are already breastfeeding, it’s probably best to continue with that plan While it’s not known for certain whether mothers with COVID-19 can spread the virus via breast milk, it is known that breastfeeding can provide babies with important nutrition and protection against many illnesses.
Neonates who otherwise meet clinical criteria for discharge not require the results of SARS-CoV-2 testing for discharge. If available, results from the neonate’s test should be communicated to the family and outpatient healthcare provider.