COVID & your child
Your Pregnancy|December 2021/January 2022
Symptoms, treatment, vaccines and a rare condition called MIS-C is on our minds when it comes to The Virus these days.
By Margot Bertelsmann, Photography by Getty Images / Gallo Images

Ever since the World HealthOrganization declared Covid-19 a pandemic on 11 March 2020, and blew our world apart, one single glimmer of hope has helped us parents keep sane: the fact that children seem far less susceptible to getting seriously ill from the novel coronavirus. While the global death toll from Covid-19 at the time of writing approaches 5 million people, children, especially those under 5 years old, are less likely to become ill, and vastly less likely to die if they do contract Covid. (The global child death toll is thought to be fewer than 9 000 – but statistics are hard to come by, in part because fewer children are tested worldwide.)

So that’s reassuring. But considering the collective trauma the world is currently undergoing, if your child has a fever, cough, diarrhoea or a snotty nose, your worry is understandable. After all, every adult is convinced they’ve got Covid every time they sneeze. It’s natural to be a little “extra” over your precious child.

IS IT COVID OR IS IT A COLD?

So many common childhood illnesses present with fever, cough and a sore throat – which are also the most common signs of Covid in your child. The short answer is, you won’t know for sure unless you get your child tested, and until you do, keep her away from grandparents, nannies and school. And try not to worry too much: most children brush off their Covid experience in a few days. (That’s if they ever even show symptoms.)

Look out for symptoms such as loss of taste or smell, red hands or feet, rashes, a severe headache, chills, fatigue, muscle pain, gastrointestinal symptoms and congestion, according to the Mayo Clinic in the United States. This may indicate a more serious case of Covid-19.

Children who are immune-compromised, obese or have asthma, diabetes or seizures are at a higher risk, as are babies under the age of 1 year, so you will want to contact your doctor or clinic if your child falls into these categories.

Dr Chantelle van der Bijl, a specialist family physician from Bloemfontein, has a child with immunodeficiency herself. She says: “I know it can really be scary for us parents of vulnerable children. My advice is to have as many people vaccinated around the child, to create a sort of protective bubble.”

Treat your child with rest, plenty of liquids, and medication for pain and fever (not aspirin). Stay in contact with your healthcare provider.

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