NEW ORLEANS, La. (WVUE) - As schools gear up for reopening amid a surge in Covid-19 cases, focus shifts to how children carry and spread the virus. Two recent studies suggest younger kids could be potentially more contagious.
Since the beginning of the pandemic one of the many baffling phenomenon centers around children. Health Educator Dr. Eric Griggs said, “We are still learning things about the virus.”
In a New Orleans City Council meeting looking towards returning to school the experts admit there’s not a lot to go on.
A doctor representing Children’s Hospital said, “A lot of spread has been done by asymptomatic persons, but we just don’t have enough data in the pediatric population.”
One of the earlier studies out of South Korea followed 11,000 people and concluded kids over 10 were just as likely to spread the virus as adults with younger children less likely to pass on the illness.
Dr. Joseph Kanter with the Louisiana Department of Health said, “Younger kids might be less likely to transmit because they have lower lung volume so they are expelling less infected air into their surroundings, they are lower to the ground so those particles might be expelled and then drop quicker. On the other hand, there is also the belief that younger kids are less likely to distance, less likely to adhere to distancing standards. Go to a playground and you can experience that so those are the schools of thought and the data out there is just sparse.”
A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) tested 145 symptomatic kids in a Chicago hospital finding the youngest carried the highest viral loads.
Griggs said, “They found that the virus SARS-COV-2 concentrated at 10 to 100 times the concentration that it would in adults.” Meaning there could be more virus in droplets coughed or sneezed out. Griggs said, “More so than adults when they sneeze which would make them more contagious.”
Another study awaiting peer review out of Italy looked at contact tracing of more than 2800 lab diagnosed positive cases. “For kids ages 14 and under they found that the contagiousness or transmission of the virus was like 22.4 percent which is twice that of adults.”
These researchers found kids more likely to infect other people in their homes. Griggs said, “We’ve kept our kids protected and isolated from each other. We get sick because our kids are in schools and they tend to bring what they have. They share their bugs and they bring them home.”
With new information almost daily making difficult decisions is not getting easier for parents.
Griggs says these studies just reinforce we must continue mitigation measures with masks, distancing and remaining home as much as possible to limit unnecessary exposure for all ages.