“That’s higher than I think most people would expect,” said Dr. James Antoon, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt.
Dr. Antoon worked on the study that included close to 20,000 pediatric patients from 45 children’s hospitals around the country between April to September 2020.
“More than half of children admitted to the hospital with COVID-19 did not have underlying health conditions,” said Antoon. “However, those with underlying health conditions and very specific comorbidities had a much higher risk of severe disease.”
Among those hospitalized, the study found a greater disease severity was associated with Black or other non-White children.
Age also played a factor. “Children who are older than 12, who are eligible for the vaccine, were among those who were the highest risk of having severe COVID disease,” said Antoon.
Sick to the point of requiring critical care and assistance breathing.
Overall, Dr. Antoon said younger children needed the most hospital care. “A concerning part of this study is that 70% of children who are hospitalized are not eligible for the vaccine. They’re younger than 12 and we need to protect those children.”
There is some good news as the study found deaths to be rare. But Dr. Antoon said parents need to be aware of the long-term effects the virus can cause.
“We know that children, more so than adults, are more likely to get what we call MIS-C disease or inflammatory disorder after their COVID, even weeks and weeks after their COVID is gone.”
This is why Dr. Antoon says now more research needs to be done to explore symptoms of long COVID in children.