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Investigating COVID-19 infection in infants

A recent study has investigated the features of COVID-19 infection in infants hospitalized in China over a two-month period.

During the spread of COVID-19 in recent months, there has been a relatively smaller number of cases of severe disease in infants reported. A recent study examined the demographic, epidemiologic, and clinical features of COVID-19 infection in infants that were hospitalized in China between December 8, 2019, and February 6, 2020.

Infants that were included in the study were classified as positive for COVID-19 infection after two positive test results. In order to identify the hospitalized infants, this study used the government’s daily released infection count, as well as the infants’ geographic location. Researchers looked at infants’ age and sex. Via the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and hospitals, researchers obtained information regarding if any family members had become infected, the infants’ connection to Wuhan and its residents, symptoms, diagnosis dates, admission dates, treatments, prognoses, and dates of estimated release.

There were a total of nine infants diagnosed with COVID-19; a majority of these infants were female. The oldest of the nine infants was 11 months and the youngest was one month old. After admission into the hospital, it took 1-3 days for a complete diagnosis.

There were two positive cases that did not show any symptoms. Another infant did not show any symptoms but tested positive due to being with family members who also tested positive. Two infants had minor upper respiratory tract infections, while four infants had a fever. Severe symptoms were not seen in any of the infants. All infants had at least one family member who tested positive for COVID-19 and analysis showed that all infants contracted the disease after their family members did. One infant had no relation to Wuhan, while seven were either residing there or had family members who had recently visited Wuhan.

The small portion of infected infants reported in this study may be due to low exposure to COVID-19, or it could be due to reduced testing in this age-group, for example, if infants were asymptomatic or only exhibited mild symptoms. This would mean that there could have potentially been a greater number of unidentified cases in infants.

Prior research suggests that older people, particularly men and especially those with underlying health conditions are more prone to severe infection.

COVID-19 infection in infants should be further researched to help protect infants who may contract the disease in the future. Adults can help reduce the spread of COVID-19 by washing their hands, wearing masks, and sanitizing the home environment.

Written by Laura Laroche, HBASc, Medical Writer

References: Min, Wei, MD, et al. “Novel Corona Virus Infection in Hospitalized Infants Under 1Year of Age in China”. JAMA. February 14th, 2020. Online.

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