Covid-19 in babies: What experts have to say if your baby tests Covid-19 positive

With parents being highly worried about what would happen if their infants catch the dreaded Covid-19 virus, experts have outlined certain measures that could prove useful to the understandably worried parents. 

It is worth noting that babies are considered vulnerable due to immature immune systems, and are also not eligible for most of the treatments and vaccinations available for older children and adults. However, the good news is that in most cases, babies experience mild illness, according to Shidan TosifHonorary Clinical Associate Professor, The University of Melbourne and Sarah McNabHonorary Fellow of Paediatrics, Director of General Medicine, Murdoch Children’s Research Institute

Here’s what to experts have to say if your baby tests positive:

If you test positive, and have a newborn or infant at home, there are some protective steps you can take, including hand-washing before providing care, and wearing a mask when breastfeeding or in close contact. The current evidence suggests Covid-19 cannot be spread through breastmilk, so there is no need to separate mother and baby.

Interestingly, transmission from older siblings and other close contacts may also be reduced by vaccination. Additionally, vaccination of parents and caregivers will also reduce their chance of severe disease, thereby minimising the risks and interruptions for mother and baby.

For testing the infants, PCR tests are available in the same places where the adults are tested, the experts have said. If you are using a RAT it’s important to check it’s for the correct age group, as not all RATs can be used on children. 

Notably, throughout the pandemic, children of all ages have been less likely to experience severe disease compared with adults. The likelihood of severe disease also appears to be lower with Omicron compared with previous variants, although the transmission of later variants has been higher.

From the clinical experience, and international research, babies with Covid-19 have mostly had mild disease, the pediatric experts noted. Not to mention, the need for hospitalisation or intensive care is extremely uncommon. Babies may be at higher risk if they are premature or have another underlying serious illness or condition, the pediatric experts notified.

Studies describing Covid-19 in newborns reflect that similar to other respiratory viruses like influenza and RSV, deaths are very rare. A range of immune differences in newborns have been proposed to explain why babies usually get less severe disease. While there is no vaccine for infants, antibodies transfer from mothers who have been vaccinated while pregnant to newborns, which may offer protection.

While infants may may exhibit a range of symptoms when they have Covid-19 that are typical of other respiratory viruses. Up to 25% of babies may have no symptoms. Fever, nasal congestion, feeding difficulties and cough are more common symptoms. Breathing difficulties, lethargy and persistent fever may be signs of severe disease.

The paediatrics experts suggest giving the infant paracetamol or ibuprofen if there is fever or discomfort, and nasal saline drops can ease congestion, following a consultation with the general physician.

In the meantime, the experts advise talking to the doctor if the baby has any of the other symptoms, including difficulty breathing; persistent fever feeding difficulties impacting hydration or causing less than 50% of normal number of nappies.

(With inputs from PTI)


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