If Your Child Is Sick
If your child has symptoms of the coronavirus or has a confirmed case, this is an extremely scary time, and you likely have a lot of questions.
The first thing to do is to contact your child's pediatrician.
Then check out these general resources about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19):
- Getting Tested
- Caring for Someone with Coronavirus
- Treating Mild Coronavirus at Home
- How to Protect Against the Virus
- Keeping Kids Safe in a Pandemic
- Kids and Masks
Kids and Coronavirus
In rare cases, some children infected with the virus have experienced multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, signs of MISC-C include:
- Abdominal pain
- Bloodshot eyes
- Neck pain
If your child experiences chest pain, difficulty breathing, confusion, bluish face or lips, or inability to wake up, seek immediate medical care.
Questions About Coronavirus
For specific questions about children and COVID-19, the pediatric experts at University of Maryland Children's Hospital answer some common questions.
- Rebecca Carter, MD is an assistant professor of pediatrics at UM School of Medicine and pediatrician at UM Pediatrics at Midtown,
- James Campbell, MD is a professor of pediatrics at UM School of Medicine and a pediatric infectious disease expert.
If my child does develop symptoms, who do I call?
We recommend reaching out to your child's primary care doctor if they start to feel sick with symptoms. Since we know most kids will not become so ill that they require hospitalization, most of the time, kids can be treated at home and will recover on their own, and your child's pediatrician can help you to understand if they need to be seen by a doctor.
You should call first before going to your doctor's office so that they can advise you where you should be seen. If your child is struggling to breathe (using their breathing muscles, breathing hard or fast), or cannot tolerate drinking by mouth and are not peeing as regularly, you may need to be seen in the Emergency Department.
News sources say that children experience "mild" symptoms. What, exactly, does that mean?
We know that the vast majority of kids experience mild or moderate symptoms and are not classified as severe. For many, this will be nasal congestion and a mild or moderate cough and may include fever and/or diarrhea.
Some kids on this spectrum may even have no symptoms at all, while others may have a significant cough and fever but would not require admission to a hospital.
Overall, this is reassuring, as it means that very, very few children have died from this and that the most kids will not become very ill if exposed.
However, there are a subset of kids who will develop symptoms of pneumonia and many will still need to be hospitalized for difficulty breathing, or who will get severe diarrhea and need help to stay hydrated.
While it is reassuring that kids do not get as sick, it is not a sign that this should be taken less seriously or that we do not need to work together to slow the spread.
We also know that kids are likely to carry this virus without as many symptoms as adults, increasing the chances of infecting others who are higher risk without knowing it.
Why isn't COVID-19 affecting many kids?
The answer is not known. One possibility is that children do not have as many of the receptors for COVID-19 in their lungs.
Kids are getting affected, but they are not getting as ill. It may be that if they do not have as many receptors in the lungs, then the virus just doesn't lead to the same problems with shortness of
breath, pneumonia and lung inflammation.
Is there anything my kids should take to boost their immune system?
There are no strong recommendations for any supplements to take to boost your child's immune system.
The most effective strategies are to teach good hand washing skills, including 20 seconds of washing and making sure to wash all fingers and your thumbs, as well as the front and back of your hands.
Make sure to keep offering a healthy and varied diet to your kids and encourage fruits and veggies, as well as trying to encourage regular exercise to keep their bodies healthy.
Find questions and answers from University of Maryland Medical Center experts in our COVID-19 Q&A series.