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Coronavirus disease 2019 in children: Clinical & epidemiological implications

1 ICMR-Vector Control Research Centre, Puducherry, India
2 Cardiothoracic Centre, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi, India
3 Department of Pediatrics, Advanced Pediatrics Centre, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education & Research, Chandigarh, India
4 Division of Epidemiology & Communicable Diseases, Indian Council of Medical Research, New Delhi, India

Correspondence Address:
Vijesh Sreedhar Kuttiatt,
ICMR-Vector Control Research Centre, Indira Nagar, Puducherry 605 006
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijmr.IJMR_977_20

Despite the global spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic, there are limited data emerging in children. This review provides an update on clinical features, diagnosis, epidemiology, management and prevention of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in children. Specific characteristics noted in children and their implications in disease management as well as transmission control are highlighted. Besides respiratory symptoms, gastrointestinal and atypical features such as chilblains, neurological symptoms and multisystem inflammation are also reported. Younger infants and those with comorbidity were found to be at risk of severe illness. Infected pregnant women and neonates were reported to have good prognosis. It is possible to manage the children with mild disease at home, with strict infection prevention control measures; severely affected require respiratory support and intensive care management. There are anecdotal reports of using antiviral and immunomodulatory drugs, benefit of which needs to be confirmed in clinical trials. A significant percentage of asymptomatic infection in children has epidemiological implication as these may act as links in transmission chain in the community. There is a need for systematic data on extra-pulmonary manifestations and atypical features, risk factors of severity, role of imaging and biomarkers, testing and management strategies and trials with antivirals and immunomodulatory drugs in children. The psychosocial effects of quarantine, closure of schools, lack of play activities and impact of lockdown need to be addressed. Understanding the biological basis for the profound age-dependent differential outcome of COVID-19 infection is important. Elucidating the protective mechanisms in children may aid in developing novel treatment strategies.

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