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How Are Babies Affected By COVID-19?


Although rare, children under age 1 (infants) are at higher risk of severe illness with COVID-19. This is likely due to their immature immune systems and smaller airways, which make them more likely to develop breathing issues with respiratory virus infections.

A study of more than 2,100 children with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 in China between late December and early February showed that just under 11% of infants had severe or critical illness. In comparison, rates of severe or critical illness were about 7% for children ages 1 to 5, 4% for those 6 to 10, 4% for those 11 to 15 and 3% for those 16 and older.

Newborns can become infected with COVID-19 during childbirth or by exposure to sick caregivers after delivery. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends special care for newborns born to women who have confirmed or suspected COVID-19. This might include temporarily separating the mother and the newborn to decrease the risk of infecting the baby, monitoring the baby for signs of infection, and, if supplies are available, testing the newborn for COVID-19.

Infants who have COVID-19 or who can't be tested due to a lack of availability and have no symptoms might be discharged from the hospital, depending on the circumstances. It's recommended that the baby's caregivers wear face masks and wash their hands to protect themselves. Frequent follow-up with the baby's health care provider is needed — by phone, virtual visits or in-office visits — for 14 days.

Infants who test negative for COVID-19 can be sent home from the hospital. Until the mother recovers, it's recommended that she minimize close contact with the baby and use a face mask and wash her hands when she is near the baby.

Snippet from: COVID-19 (coronavirus) in babies and children from mayoclinic.org