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COVID-19 Typically Mild for Babies: Study

-- Robert Preidt
HealthDay News

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THURSDAY, June 25, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Most babies with COVID-19 have mild illness, with fever being the main symptom, according to a small study.

It included 18 infants under 3 months of age who tested positive for COVID-19 at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. None had a significant medical history.

Half of the babies were admitted to the hospital, but none required oxygen, respiratory support or intensive care.

The admissions were mainly for clinical observation, monitoring feeding tolerance, and ruling out bacterial infection.

Of the nine babies who were hospitalized, six had gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms such as poor feeding, vomiting and diarrhea. Upper respiratory symptoms of cough and congestion appeared before the GI issues. Young infants also had notably high coronavirus levels in their nasal specimens despite mild symptoms.

"While there is limited data on infants with COVID-19 from the United States, our findings suggest that these babies mostly have mild illness and may not be at higher risk of severe disease as initially reported from China," said lead author Dr. Leena Mithal, a pediatric infectious diseases expert at Lurie Children's Hospital.

She noted that most of the infants studied had fever, which suggests that for babies being evaluated because of high temperatures, COVID-19 may be an important cause, especially in regions where the disease is spreading. She added that evaluating babies for bacterial infection remains important, nonetheless.

"It is unclear whether young infants with fever and a positive test for SARS-CoV-2 require hospital admission," Mithal said in a hospital news release. "The decision to admit to the hospital is based on age, need for preemptive treatment of bacterial infection, clinical assessment, feeding tolerance, and adequacy of follow-up."

The study was recently published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

More information

Harvard Medical School has more on COVID-19 and children.

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