Recognize COVID-19 symptoms in children, based on pediatricians' advice

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Our pediatricians at Pediatrics Healthcare Associates wanted to share this great article from CNN regarding COVID -19 symptoms and severity of these.

Are parents really supposed to be reassured by all this talk about "mild" cases of Covid-19 in children? What about the unfortunate "few" youngsters who have died or come down with a strange and severe associated illness?

No parent wants to take the odds that their child might be the exception to the rule.

"We've had 90 deaths in children in the United States already, in just a few months," Dr. Sean O'Leary, vice-chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Infectious Diseases, told CNN's Anderson Cooper on Monday.

"It's not fair to say that this virus is completely benign in children," he said.

As a number of schools and universities across the country have begun classes or are moving forward with plans to begin full or partial in-person instruction in the coming weeks, fears among families are on the rise. The question looms: Will our children be safe?

After all, there has already been a 90% increase in the number of Covid-19 cases among children across the US in just the last four weeks, according to data released this week by the AAP.

In Florida, where most public schools haven't opened yet, seven children have died, three in just the last month. Hospitalizations due to Covid-19 among children in Florida rose by 105% during the same four week time frame, from 213 to 436.

Because most children have been sheltering at home until recently, it's not surprising that the numbers of cases in children were low at the start of the pandemic.

"Kids just haven't had that many contacts," said CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta in a Tuesday Facebook Live event. "As we're seeing kids develop more and more contacts, we are seeing the numbers go up. And they're going up at an increasingly rapid pace. This is why I am worried about schools.

"We've got to approach this judiciously because if we have terrible outbreaks in schools, and if people get sick -- kids, faculty, teachers, whoever gets sick and someone dies -- obviously beyond the physical toll, (there is) the psychological toll, as well on communities," Gupta said. "Which is something that really worries me."

What are the symptoms?

Symptoms of Covid-19 are the same in children as they are in adults.

"If you look at the long list of potential symptoms — congestion, cough, fever, loss of sense of smell — they can all happen in both adults and children," O'Leary said.

Other key signs include any difficulty in breathing; a rash, especially one that is quickly spreading; a lack of energy; and problems keeping a child awake, said pediatrician Dr. Daniel Cohen, who practices close to the epicenter of the New Rochelle, New York, outbreak, where nearly 2,900 people were infected from early March through late May.

"It's very important to let the doctor know immediately if you can't really get them up if they're falling asleep all the time and just exhausted if they're not drinking, not eating -- the activities of daily living," Cohen said.

Don't hesitate to call the doctor

No worry is too small to reach out to your pediatrician, experts say. Parents are the best detectives because they know how their child typically behaves.

"It may be something that you cannot communicate but something's bothering you," Cohen said. "I always tell parents, 'Look, if you're nervous, I should be, too. That's just the way things are right now.' The only call that's a wrong call is the unmade one."

O'Leary agreed. If parents "see their child is looking particularly ill or sicker than they would expect with typical cold or illness, they should call their pediatrician to discuss. Severe anything is always a concern."

The pandemic is affecting the way medicine is practiced. Take fever, for example, a common sign of illness in children that might have been put on the "watch and see" list in pre-COVID times.

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