CDC: Minors less likely to contract COVID-19

Grant Boone
April 7, 2020

Hospital admission was most common with children under the age of 1 or young people with underlying health conditions, the CDC report says. Almost a third of those cases involved children ages 15 to 17; 27 percent were among those ages 10 and 14; 15 percent were among those ages 5 to 9; 11 percent were among those ages 1 to 4; and 15 percent were among those under 1.

The data also shows that children under 18 were 40 to 60 percent less likely to be hospitalized or admitted to an intensive care unit than adults. Though most kids didn't become severely ill, three youngsters died.

Although children under age 18 make up 22% of the US population, they accounted for only 1.7% of the 149,082 confirmed COVID-19 cases for which the patient's age was known, researchers wrote in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Up to 20% of USA children infected by the novel coronavirus require hospitalization, with infants under age 1 most likely to be in that group, according to the government's first in-depth analysis of the disease in the youngest patient population.

73% of pediatric patients showed symptoms of fever, cough, or shortness of breath, compared with 93% of adults aged 18 to 64. And only 56% of the cases sampled had included fever as a specific symptom.

About 1 in 5 infected children were hospitalized versus 1 in 3 adults.

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Relatively few children with COVID-19 ended up in the hospital, and fewer still required intensive care. Children ages 1-17 had a lower estimated range of hospitalization, from 4.1%-14%.

Get all the latest news on coronavirus and more delivered daily to your inbox. Among 295 cases with available information on hospitalization and underlying medical conditions, 28 of 37 hospitalized patients, including all 6 patients in the ICU, had one or more underlying medical conditions.

The CDC received its first report of a case involving a child on March 2; since March 5, it said, pediatric cases have been reported daily.

They added, clinicians should "maintain a high degree of suspicion" for infection in children and monitor the progression of illness, especially among those with underlying conditions.

The report authors stressed that because people without symptoms, including children, are likely playing a role in transmitting the virus, "social distancing and everyday preventive measures" are recommended for all ages.

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