According to a small study published on Thursday in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, children younger than 5 have 10 to 100 times more genetic material from novel coronaviruses in their noses than older children and adults.
While the study did not measure permeability, it does raise the question – the way schools begin to reopen – about how easily new coronaviruses can be spread by under-5 sets.
“We just noticed that some of the children we were testing for SARS CoV-2, which were positive, had the highest levels of viral nucleic acids in the youngest children – a higher viral load in their noses – than In some of our older children and adults, “lead author Dr. Taylor Heald-Sergeant, a pediatric infectious disease specialist at Lurie Children’s Hospital in Chicago, told CNN. “And so when we … actually ran the numbers, controlled for a few things, we found that there is actually a statistically significant higher amount of genes encoded by SARS, which is usually more virus-related , Children under five years of age compared to older children and adults. “
Heald-Sargeant and his team analyzed 145 swab samples collected from patients with mild-to-moderate Kovid-19 within a week of symptom onset; Among them, 5 were children under 5, 51 were children between 5- to 17 years old, and 48 were adults between 18 and 65 years old. Samples were collected from various inpatient, outpatient in late March and late April. , Drive through testing sites at the emergency department and the Pediatric Tertiary Medical Center in Chicago.
They found that significant amounts of a large amount of virus particles in the nose of people under 5 “had 10 times as many folds of coronovirus in the upper respiratory tract” … the researchers write in their paper.
Heald-Sargent states that more studies are needed to see the communication potential of SARS-CoV-2 in children. “So far this broadcast is not coming mainly from children,” the Heald-Sergeant said.
But his team wrote in the paper that due to home remedies implemented in mid-March, many young children had fewer opportunities to transmit.
“The question was still there: could it possibly be transmitted from children?” He said, noting that lack of evidence is not proof of absence.
If other respiratory viruses are any indication, he said, the answer may very well be.
“Any grade-school teacher or pediatrician will tell you, [young children] There are small vectors very effective for transmission of the virus, because we get very sick from these children in the winter, “she said.” I think other viruses are similar … it is more likely that children will transmit. “
Other experts say that when they are not surprised by the findings, it is good to study.
Seattle Children’s Dr. Alpana Waghmare said, “Data in pediatrics has not been as robust as adults with Kovid-19, so it is really good to have additional virologic data in pediatric patients.”
Assistant Professor of Pediatricians Waghmare said, “The authors did a great job using a fairly robust sample size of subjects across different age groups and a very simple research design to see the difference of viral load in these age groups . ” In Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at the University of Washington.
Waghmare said the findings are consistent with other published studies looking at viral load across a spectrum of respiratory viruses in pediatric populations. “It is not surprising to find a higher viral load in children. I think the question is still unclear as to what that really means for transmission,” she said.
Pediatric infectious disease physician at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Dr. Michael Smit agrees – and then some.
“We’ve known for quite some time that for some respiratory viruses, young children are breeding grounds and are part of the population that spreads it to the rest of the community,” said Smit, who is also the hospital’s epidemiologist and infection prevention and Medical Director for Control.
Smit said that before it was published as a research paper at the JAMA Network Open in mid-May with Respiratory Narrow Virus (RSV) and his own group of research, the same thing was shown with seasonal coronaviruses. “So, it is a known phenomenon in pediatrics that young children can be the main drivers of the spread of the disease and communities.”
There are still questions about the new coronovirus, however. A recent study in South Korea found that Kovid-19, aged 10 to 19, occurs only in adults in young people, but in children 9 years and younger, the virus infection is very high. Is less.
The issue remains, what can you do about it?
“Once you find out what type of virus it is and in which age groups it occurs more and more, it can help us strategize for surveillance, for isolation,” he said. said.
Heidel-Sargeant said that “behavioral habits” of very young children – for example, lack of awareness of personal space and personal hygiene, all the extravagance, playing on hands, and wiping the eyes and nose – make them harder for anyone. Also control potential spread, but it is important to try.
“It’s a struggle for them to wear their masks and not to wash their hands and put everything in their mouths and their noses,” she said.
“Due to the good behavior of adults, they are encouraged to have their children wash their hands and wear their masks as much as possible, cleaning high-touch areas, beware of diapers” are all good behaviors, he said. Younger children usually want to. To please his parents.
At the societal level, she said that it would be important to implement infection control practices such as contact tracing, and taking steps in school, such as placing children in the same small groups, to limit prevalence.