EXCLUSIVE: Are toddlers bearing the brunt of Omicron? Experts reveal
Experts tell you if Omicron is affecting toddlers by and large. Read on to find out.
Mohit and Addite Malik’s son Ekbir, Kishwer Merchant and Suyyash Rai’s son Nirvair, Nakuul Mehta and Jankee Parekh’s son Sufi and the list goes on. It won’t be wrong to say that children, too, especially toddlers, are bearing the brunt of the new wave of COVID-19.
While the last two waves, too, saw children getting infected, the third one seems to be proving a lot more dangerous for them, if not fatal.
Dr Tushar Parikh, Consultant Neonatologist & Paediatrician, Motherhood Hospital, Kharadi, Pune, tells you that currently many toddlers are getting Covid positive and fever is one of the main symptoms that is seen in them.
“Along with fever, toddlers are reporting another harsh, barking cough known as croup. Not only toddlers but people from every age group are also getting infected with COVID-19. The COVID cases are rising at an alarming rate as this time the Omicron variant is seen higher up in the respiratory tract instead of going deep in the lungs. The upper part of the respiratory tract of the kid can get swollen as his/her airways are smaller,” explains Parikh.
However, Parikh says, parents should not fret as Omicron variant infection is mild and less severe as compared to Delta. “Parents need to make sure that they don’t delay treatment once the symptoms crop up. Adults tend to pass on the infection to children. Since infections in adults are going up, the cases in children will also rise,” adds Parikh.
If the pattern continues, Parikh believes that the number of toddlers infected with COVID can go up in the coming days. Hence, it is essential for the parents to follow strict COVID protocols at home. “Wear a mask, sanitise hands, and maintain social distance. Do not allow your toddler to go around sick people, avoid handling the toddler if you are sick and self-isolate yourself. Do not allow visitors at home, stick to the vaccination schedule given by the doctor, do not take your toddler to crowded places, and avoid social gatherings,” advises Parikh.
However, the silver lining is that the disease will be mild in toddlers. There is no cause of alarm when it comes to toddlers and hence, parents should stay calm. “The fact is children will get infected in large numbers, but they won’t require hospitalisation or oxygen therapy. The infection in children is not severe, and do not unnecessarily rush the children to the hospital without the doctor’s advice as doing so can expose them to further infections and problems. A majority of the children can recover with home-based care and under constant monitoring of the doctor,” explains Parikh.
Dr Manish Mannan, HOD, Paediatrics & Neonatology, Paras Hospitals, Gurugram, tells you that it's not that the children were not getting affected earlier, it's just that the symptoms were very mild or most of them were asymptomatic. “This particular variant of COVID however presents like flu, which primarily affects upper respiratory tract infection and it is affecting everybody including the children. This time they are presenting with cough, runny nose, fever, sometimes, gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea,” says Mannan.
He agrees with Parikh and says that the disease is mild in toddlers, like in everybody else, and most of the toddlers are also recovering without any hospitalisation. Some children present with a lot of vomiting and high-grade fever with poor oral intake and dehydration hence may need to be admitted for a short period of time for IV fluids. “Till now we haven't seen any serious situation in any of the toddlers. And as it spreads, you would consider this as a flu-like illness. We'll get to know more as the cases increase or as the disease spreads in the country. Till now, however, the situation seems to be under control, since the presentation is mostly lung-sparing where the upper airways are mostly affected,” opines Mannan.
Not to mention, this variant is highly infectious, hence precautions must be taken and we should be cautious. Additionally, we should also be wary of rumour mongers and panic spreaders, Mannan concludes.
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