Researchers from the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital have uncovered that children younger than five years of age with mild to moderate COVID-19 appear to have far greater levels of genetic material for the virus in the nasal passages as do older children and adults. These findings contradict other findings that show children are infected at lower rates than elder children or adults. But the new findings out of Chicago definitely raise serious concern about the role children may have in spreading this pathogen. That’s because the Chicago researchers have found that children may have 100 times more of the virus, specifically in the nose.
Published last week in the journal of JAMA Pediatrics, the study was led by Dr. Taylor Heald-Sargent, a pediatric infectious specialist at Lurie’s Children’s, and a team of researchers. They investigated 145 cases of mild to moderate SARS-CoV-2 cases within the first several days of symptom onset, reported the hospital’s press release.
Medical Community Underestimates Impact on Children
The study revealed that perhaps the youngest children may be the key transmitters of the disease. This insight may have been missed, or under-recognized given the rapid and sustained closure of schools and daycare during the pandemic. Taylor Heald-Sargent commented, “We found that children under 5 with COVID-19 have a higher viral load than older children and adults, which may suggest greater transmission, as we see respiratory syncytial virus, also known as RSV.” The doctor suggested, “This has important public health implications, especially during discussions on the safety of reopening schools and daycare.”
Research at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, Chicago
The research arm of Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital, Chicago, is conducted via the Stanley Mann Children’s Research Institute. The Manne Research Institute focuses on improving child health, transforming pediatric medicine and ensuring healthier futures through the relentless pursuit of knowledge.
Lurie Children’s a Special Provider
Lurie Children’s ranks as one of the nation’s top children’s hospital by U.S. News & World Report. It is the pediatric training group for Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Last year the hospital served more than 220,000 children from 48 states and 49 countries.
Dr. Taylor Heald-Sargent, MD Public Infectious Disease Fellow
Other authors can be seen at the study source.
Call to Action: What are the implications for public health policy here? What about in regards to school reopenings?