Coronavirus Questions Answered: Kids and Pregnancy

Symptoms of COVID-19 are less severe in kids. [Aleksandra Suzi / Shutterstock]
Symptoms of COVID-19 are less severe in kids. [Aleksandra Suzi / Shutterstock]

What are your questions about the coronavirus?

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Gov. Mike DeWine announced Thursday a mandatory three week “extended spring break,” which comes on the heels of other actions by individual schools, such as switching to distance learning and cutting extra-curricular activities. Amid all the confusion of cancellations and coronavirus, parents have been writing in with a lot of questions around their kids and how to keep them safe.

Jocelyn asked: “My husband and I have two small young children, and I'm a little confused about the advice for if you start having symptoms and you have other family members, if you're supposed to quarantine, how do you keep them as safe as possible?”

University Hospitals pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Amy Edwards said in her house, if one person is sick, everyone is sick. That’s because by the time a person starts exhibiting symptoms, everyone in the house has already been exposed to the virus.

So Jocelyn might be fighting a losing battle trying to prevent other family members from becoming sick. Luckily, Edwards said early data show kids do OK if they become infected with COVID-19. To her knowledge, no kids have died from the coronavirus.

“Kids, apparently from the data that we have so far, handle this virus really well,” she said.

But, if anyone in the house is over 60 or has a chronic illness, you should try to keep that person from catching COVID-19, said Edwards.

Edwards recommends having only people who are completely healthy care for any elderly people in the home. The highest risk age group is people over 80.

And if you’re thinking about visiting grandparents, maybe hold off until everyone in the house is symptom-free. Edwards said this should be the rule for any illness, not just coronavirus.

Asim asked: “What does self-quarantine effectively mean? Someone with questionable symptoms stays at home, yes, but should the person be left alone by the rest of the family? Or do family members provide care, food, etc.?

As Dr. Edwards said, it’s unlikely to completely quarantine if you live with other people. If you’re not a high risk group, Edwards said you can help provide care for those infected, just as you might do with any virus.

“And so you want to just do what you always do: get plenty of rest, eat, drink, stay hydrated,” Edwards said. “But no, you don’t have to shut mom in a room and never talk to her, although she’d probably like that if she has young kids. It might be a nice break.”

Jackie from Chagrin Falls had a question about soon-to-be parents: “I was wondering if there are any considerations that pregnant people need to take for the coronavirus at home and if there have been studies on pregnant women.”

Dr. Edwards said it’s too early to know for sure, but early data suggest pregnant women may have a more severe reaction to COVID-19, but there have been case studies out of China showing infected women who had healthy babies.

“We keep saying there are high-risk individuals that need to take more precautions,” she said. “Because we do know that pregnancy puts a strain on the heart and the lungs and we know that COVID-19 has a predilection for attacking the lungs fairly vigorously, I would say for pregnant women right now, in light of the fact that we don’t have definitive scientific information, I would treat yourself as high-risk.”

Edwards said that means avoiding crowded areas, and perhaps canceling plans like going to concerts.

And for everyone, including pregnant women and kids, the CDC recommends frequent hand washing and avoiding touching your face.

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