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What are the risks to children from COVID-19?

Children often have less severe illness from COVID-19 compared to adults, and they can often be asymptomatic. However, COVID-19 can be serious for some children.

The most common symptoms include fever and cough, while a runny nose on its own (isolated rhinorrhea) is relatively uncommon. Children have also been observed to have digestive symptoms such as diarrhea more often than adults. Symptoms tend to resolve more rapidly in children. 

While less common, some children develop severe illness that can require hospitalization and intensive care. Severe disease occurs most often among children with pre-existing conditions, such as neurodevelopmental disorders (eg. cerebral palsy, brain injury at birth), obesity and chronic lung diseases (excluding asthma). In rare situations, deaths from COVID-19 have occurred among children. 

Some children face other complications. This can include “long COVID” as well as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C, a hyperinflammatory syndrome that can cause inflammation in a number of organs, including the heart and heart lining. MIS-C is most often observed in school-age children.

Further Reading:

Characteristics of children admitted to hospital with acute SARS-COV-2 infection in Canada in 2020 (Canadian Medical Association Journal)