Young children spread COVID-19 much less than others, study finds

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) — Infectious disease doctors in Missouri say new studies show a lower coronavirus transmission rate among children.

“It does seem that children are at lower risk of spreading the virus to others,” said Dr. Andrew Janowski, with St. Louis Children’s Hospital. “So that could be reassuring when we’re talking about returning to school.”

The New York Times reported that according to a new study from South Korea, children under the age of 10 pass the virus to others much less often than adults do. However, those ages 10 to 19 can transmit COVID-19 at least as well as adults.

Doctors in Missouri say they are seeing three groups of children and teens with COVID-19.

One group has the same symptoms as adults.  They experience fever and cough. 

A second group doesn’t have those symptoms but, instead, has one or all of the following:  nausea, diarrhea, rash, loss of taste and smell and bluing toes. 

“Up to 50% of children will not have a fever or have a cough,” said Janowski. “So it makes it difficult when children aren’t presenting in this way.”

The third group has no symptoms at all. Though doctors say they know there is a significant portion of children and teens without symptoms, they are still trying to determine the best way to test and identify them. 

The hard part for parents is that all of the COVID-19 symptoms could apply to other viruses and the common cold. 

“Basically, any illness that a child may have could be consistent with COVID-19,” Janowski said. “So, this is a constant battle that a lot of families are having, just trying to sort out, “Should I get my child tested.'”

Doctors say new studies show some asymptomatic children have such a mild version of the virus that they don’t infect anyone else in the household. They say if your child has been exposed to someone with COVID-19, call your pediatrician to get help determining whether they should be tested. 

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