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Omicron is “essentially calmer” than Delta for young children, but parents should be vigilant

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However, Covid-19 case rates and child hospitalization have reached record highs in recent weeks. Due to the high case rate, even a small risk of serious consequences can bring a large number of children to the hospital, experts say.

“If you have a very large number of infected people, you are less likely to have a serious event, but this is generally true for children. Generally, they are much more resistant to the virus than adults, but it is. It’s no wonder you go, to see more of the children who can have the rare and serious consequences of an infectious disease, “said Dr. Richard Malley, an infectious disease specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital.

“In many respects, both statements may apply. Omicron may be milder in children than previous variants, but even mild viruses are significantly more common in severe Covid cases. May be seen. “

For a new study, researchers analyzed electronic health records of about 80,000 children under the age of five who were infected with Covid-19 for the first time in the United States. This age group is not yet eligible for vaccination, and researchers note that the previous low Covid-19 infection rate also limits existing immunity.

The study found that hospitalization, ICU admission, and mechanical ventilation were reduced by approximately 70% among children infected with Omicron compared to children infected with Delta. They also found that visits to the emergency room were reduced by 29%. There were so few reports that no data on deaths were included.

Overall, about 1% of children infected with Omicron were hospitalized, compared to about 3% of children infected with Delta, according to the study.

“Despite this promising outcome, the long-term acute effects of Omicron infection, the tendency to develop’long COVID’, the rate of spread, the potential for mutations, and how previous infections have a clinical response. Further research is needed to monitor changes. The researchers wrote.

According to data from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were about 10 Covid-19 hospitalizations for every 100,000 children under the age of 5 in the last week of December, more than at any other time during the pandemic. And while the results are promising at a wide range of population levels, the experience of families with children who will eventually be admitted to the hospital is less serious.

“Imagine you are a parent. Imagine you are a child. That is, these things are very stressful,” Marie said. “Children who are hospitalized do not know that hospitalization will be shorter or less severe. Parents will not know that either.”

And, in addition to not being eligible for vaccination, children face some additional inherent risk factors that can promote infection-and the potential for serious consequences.

Dr. Karen Rabin, Head of Infectious Diseases at the Duke of Nemours Children’s Hospital in Delaware, said:

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“Since a child is a child, talking to them makes it easier to get closer to people. When playing, it’s like head-to-head. They tend to touch everything and get closer to everyone, so all kinds of respiratory viruses. This is clearly a bit more at risk than adults who tend to keep our distance. ”

And since schools and kindergartens are now back in session, this transmission is more likely, which is why children began to account for a greater proportion of cases and hospitalizations during delta surges than previous waves. It may be.

“It’s another stadium,” Rabin said.

In addition to Covid-19 patients, the hospital is currently caring for more children whose care has been postponed or otherwise avoided.

“In the early days of the pandemic, the hospital was fairly empty. There wasn’t much trauma, other acute injuries, or medical concerns. Unfortunately, in a pandemic, this applies to both pediatric patients and adults. Some people have postponed or waited for medical care because of various concerns because of the risk of a pandemic, “Rabin said.

“Now we have sequelae. Currently, many patients are hospitalized due to many other acute medical concerns, and many children are hospitalized in Covid. Hospital patients. . “

According to experts, all that can be considered is that the precautions taken by parents should not be changed.

“Sometimes parents can do things they couldn’t do a year ago, one of which is to ensure that everyone close to the child being vaccinated or boosted is vaccinated or boosted. That’s what Marie said.

“Also, prioritize outdoor activities as well as indoor activities, and be careful to wear a mask whenever you are indoors. I think we need to re-emphasize these things. . “

The new study has not been peer-reviewed and has not been published in a professional journal. This included approximately 7,000 children infected during the Omicron subspecies predominance and approximately 63,000 children infected during the Delta predominant period. Virus samples were not sequenced on an individual child basis, but were envisioned based on the broader sequence data of the time. Omicron accounted for about 92% of the sample in the two weeks leading up to January 6, and Delta accounted for 99% of the sample from September to mid-November.

The study also found that both variants were disproportionately infecting black children, especially the Omicron variant. More than a quarter (26%) of children infected with Omicron were black, while less than 15% of children who encountered the health care system during the same period were black.

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