It has been eight months since the deadly coronavirus unleashed its wrath upon the world and still continuing its fight with the virus. The puny virus in a way changed our lifestyle as we witnessed loss of many lives and badly affected the economy and many more. Various studies have conducted; guidelines were given by the health department of various countries and the World Health Organisation.
All Countries are working closely to help each other in providing the required aid and medical supplies.
In all of this, the most difficult task is while treating young children as many times it is difficult to understand the specific symptoms.
Dr Meenakshi Girish, Professor & Head Department of Pediatrics AIIMS, Nagpur informed The Live Nagpur about the steps to be taken by the parents to keep their children safe.
What symptoms one must look for in kids?
Fever, cough, body pain/irritability, vomiting, loose motions are common symptoms suggestive of COVID 19 in children. When children become breathless or become drowsy and stop eating, these become danger signs and constitute severe disease in children.
What should a parent do when they notice COVI-19 similar symptoms in their kids?
If a child is tested positive for COVID 19, further management is based on the severity of the disease. If the child has only fever, cough, loose motions then they can be managed at home. Treatment is the same as for any viral fever, with emphasis on trying to keep the child isolated and watch for danger signs. Hospitalisation is essential if the child is less than 1 yr of age, suffers from any other chronic illness, and has danger signs.
Can the virus affect kids at the same rate it is affecting adults?
No. Generally children have viral infections more often than adults but it has been seen that coronavirus infection occurs in children at a lesser rate than adults and among those who do get infected severe disease is very uncommon. Amongst children, those under 1 yr of age are said to have a more severe disease as compared to older children. Death due to coronavirus in children constitutes less than 0.1% of overall mortality due to COVID 19.
What are the treatment methods set for kids who have been tested positive?
Treatment is based on the severity of the disease. COVID 19 in children is graded as asymptomatic/mild, moderate, severe, and critical disease. The last two categories are accompanied by evidence of falling oxygen levels in the blood and are managed in the intensive care unit. Children with the moderate disease are kept in the isolation ward and given supportive treatment along with close monitoring. The rest can be managed at home.
Is the medication the same for kids as of adults as no set medication has been officially set?
Antiviral drugs used in adults are used for severe infection in children only on an experimental basis and decision taken by a paediatrician on a case to case basis. Providing adequate ventilation and oxygenation, fluids, and management of inflammation is the mainstay of treatment for children. The antiviral medicine Remdesivir has been tried in severe infection in children as part of clinical trials but no treatment specific for SARS Co 2 has been tested and proven effective in children so far.
Researchers have emphasised that understanding how the COVID-19 coronavirus affects children is critical to limiting the disease’s spread and ensuring that the appropriate treatments can be identified and developed, is this statement correct?
There is a great debate on the role of children in spreading COVID 19 as this is linked to consideration of the reopening of schools. There is still a lack of sufficient data to show that children can accelerate the spread of coronavirus in the community. Available reports suggest that most children get infected due to spread from infected adult family members.
Is the transfer of virus possible from Mother while feeding the newborn child?
Viral transfer from mother to newborn is mostly through the usual route that infects most people – via droplets and through touching with infected hands. Mother to baby transfer in utero, also called vertical transmission, has been reported in a few studies but more data is awaited to confirm this mode of transmission. Likewise, breastmilk is also not found to transmit infection in newborns. If the mother is COVID 19 positive, the most important step to follow is the mother should wear masks in a proper way, never reuse mask, maintain cough hygiene and wash hands with soap and water before touching baby. Despite these precautions, babies may get infected but infection has been reported to be mild.
What steps one must take to create awareness among kids?
Most important is to truthfully and scientifically answer children’s questions about this pandemic. Teach children everyday actions that are important to prevent the spread of infection to others and to get an infection from others. Five messages from the core of COVID-19 education in children:
- Maintain distance from people while playing or moving outside. Teach them what an approximation of 6 feet in practice is.
- All children except those under 2 years should wear masks which cover their nose and mouth.
- Children must cough or sneeze into their elbows or preferably use a disposable material which can be thrown into a dustbin.
- Children should wash their hands with soap and water especially after coughing/sneezing and before eating.
- Children should avoid touching their mouth, eyes, and nose
Most importantly, parents must serve as role models for all the above actions if they want to truly want their children to be safe and well informed.
What should be the diet or eating habits of children to boost their immune system during the pandemic?
There is no special diet to protect from COVID 19. All claims regarding diet and COVID-19 are myths. There are no scientifically proven immune boosters.