Visit Our Coronavirus (COVID-19)  Resource Section ⇒ X
Jump to:  A   |   B   |   C   |   D   |   E   |   F   |   G   |   H   |   I   |   J   |   K   |   L   |   M   |   N   |   O   |   P   |   Q   |   R   |   S   |   T   |   U   |   V   |   W   |   X   |   Y

Which Kids Are at Highest Risk From COVID?

Which Kids Are at Highest Risk From COVID?

TUESDAY, Sept. 21, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Older children and kids with chronic diseases are those most likely to wind up in the hospital with COVID-19, researchers have found.

Conditions such as obesity, diabetes and neurologic problems, among others, put kids at risk for severe COVID-19, according to a new U.S. study.

"There's a myth circulating out there that children don't get sick from COVID-19, and that's kind of persisted throughout the pandemic. And I think our findings dispel that, and we can finally put that to bed," said Dr. James Antoon, who led the study of U.S. kids and COVID-19. He is an assistant professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

Antoon noted that one in five kids with COVID-19 seen in U.S. emergency departments are admitted to the hospital, and 21% of them require treatment in an intensive care unit, including mechanical ventilation.

The most frequent complications of COVID-19 among children are pneumonia, vomiting and diarrhea. Asthma attacks are also common, Antoon said. Fortunately, few children die.

"One concerning part of our finding is that children who are eligible to be vaccinated — those older than 12 — are most likely to have more severe disease," Antoon said. "But it's also the group that's the least-vaccinated. We need to do a better job of vaccinating the children who are eligible, and then we also have to think carefully about how do we protect those children with comorbidities who are at very high risk for having severe COVID."

Antoon attributed the increase in pediatric cases to the return to school.

"Certainly, when children congregate they're going to transmit the virus, and there's definitely going to be increased transmission among children, which is going to correlate into more hospitalizations and more severe disease," he explained.

Whether vaccines should be mandated, especially as shots for younger children become available, is a tough question, Antoon said, given the level of the anti-vaxxer movement in the United States.

He added that vaccine mandates are nothing new in the United States, and said a COVID-19 shot should be added to the mix.

"Preventing COVID-19 is much more effective than trying to treat it, because the treatments that we have are not as effective as the vaccines are in preventing severe disease or treating severe disease," Antoon said.

He also urged parents to make sure their kids get the flu shot and take common-sense steps to avoid getting sick.

"Even healthy children can end up in the hospital with COVID-19," Antoon said. "To protect your children and the children around them, please have them vaccinated, wear masks and continue doing the things we know help prevent transmission of COVID."

For the study, Antoon's team collected data on nearly 20,000 pediatric patients at 45 U.S. children's hospitals.

The researchers discovered that children who were in poor health due to chronic conditions — such as obesity, diabetes and neurologic problems — were more likely to have severe COVID-19 and need hospital care. This was especially true for older kids.

Dr. David Katz is president of the True Health Initiative in Tulsa, Okla., which promotes preventing illness by living a healthy lifestyle. He reviewed the new study findings.

"This paper highlights the importance of chronic health status to COVID outcomes in children — something already well established for adults," Katz said.

He noted that obesity and type 2 diabetes, which add to COVID-19 risks, are a growing problem in children that intensified during the pandemic.

"These conditions are all but completely preventable with lifestyle interventions," Katz said. "If this is not an argument for urgent attention to health promotion programming for America's children, it's hard to imagine what would be."

Katz pointed out that the study data noted that while Black children and Hispanic children were less likely to be hospitalized than white youngsters in the United States, they were more likely to be severely ill if hospitalized.

"This, clearly, has nothing to do with skin pigment or ethnicity, and everything to do with differential access and barriers to care," he said. "Those with impaired access to care arrive later and sicker. Here we have a view of direct interactions between social determinants of health and the toll of the pandemic among our children. This, too, is modifiable; this, too, warrants an urgent, national response."

The findings were published online Sept. 15 in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about kids and COVID.

SOURCES: James Antoon, MD, PhD, assistant professor, pediatrics and hospital medicine, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tenn.; David Katz, MD, MPH, president, True Health Initiative, Tulsa, Okla.; Journal of Hospital Medicine, Sept. 15, 2021, online

Reviewed Date: --

Find a pediatrician
Childrens Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
Dr. James Bennett
Dr. J. Marc Cardelia
Dr. Bettina Gyr
Dr. Peter Moskal
Dr. Cara Novick
Dr. Stephanie Pearce
Dr. Carl St. Remy
Sports Medicine
Dr. Joel Brenner
Dr. Aisha Joyce
Dr. Micah Lamb
Dr. David Smith
Infectious Disease
Dr. Randall Fisher
Dr. Laura Sass
Health Tips
Helping Kids Get Over their Fears
When Can a Child Wear Contact Lenses
Immunization Quiz
Teen Health Quiz
Vaccine Quiz
Getting Ready for the COVID-19 Vaccine
Diseases & Conditions
Adolescent (13 to 18 Years)
Amenorrhea in Teens
Anatomy of a Child's Brain
Anatomy of the Endocrine System in Children
Anxiety Disorders in Children
Asthma in Children Index
Becker Muscular Dystrophy (BMD) in Children
Bone Marrow Transplant for Children
Brain Tumors in Children
Breast Conditions in Young Women
Chemotherapy for Children: Side Effects
Ewing Sarcoma in Children
Female Growth and Development
Gynecological and Menstrual Conditions
Gynecological Infections
Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) in Children
High Blood Pressure in Children and Teens
Home Page - Adolescent Medicine
Infection in Babies
Inflammatory and Infectious Musculoskeletal Disorders
Inflammatory and Infectious Neurological Disorders
Inguinal Hernia in Children
Insect Bites and Children
Kidney Transplantation in Children
Major Depression in Teens
Meningitis in Children
Menstrual Cramps (Dysmenorrhea) in Teens
Menstrual Disorders
Mood Disorders in Children and Adolescents
Myasthenia Gravis (MG) in Children
Oral Health
Osteosarcoma (Osteogenic Sarcoma) in Children
Overview of Adolescent Health Problems
Pap Test for Adolescents
Pediatric Blood Disorders
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Children
Preparing the School-Aged Child for Surgery
Schizophrenia in Children
School-Aged Child Nutrition
Sports Safety for Children
Superficial Injuries of the Face and Head- Overview
Teens and Diabetes Mellitus
Television and Children
The Growing Child- Teenager (13 to 18 Years)
The Growing Child: 2-Year-Olds
The Heart
The Kidneys
Your Child's Asthma
Your Child's Asthma: Flare-ups

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to substitute or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your child's physician. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only, and was not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease. Please consult your child's physician with any questions or concerns you may have regarding a medical condition.