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Topic 14: COVID-19 in Children

Topic 14: COVID-19 in Children

Question: Can COVID-19 Cause Severe Illness in Children?

Answer: Yes. While most children with COVID-19 have no symptoms or minimal symptoms, a very small proportion of children do become quite sick.

Overall, children handle COVID-19 better than adults. When children become sick from COVID-19, their symptoms tend to be similar to those of adults, but are much milder. The children at a higher risk of becoming quite sick include those under the age of 2 years, and those with underlying medical problems like asthma, heart defects, or weak immune system.

Why do children have milder symptoms that adults in general? Many factors are likely responsible. One possibility is that children’s immune system may be less likely to cause the extreme immune response and inflammation that we know harm some adults with COVID-19.

Children can transmit COVID-19, so measures to prevent transmission should be extended to them. Available evidence so far points to the following:

  • Children with COVID-19 shed the virus as much as adults.
  • Children under 10 years may be less likely to transmit the virus than adults, while those older than 10 years appear to transmit as much as adults.