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In the midst of the relentless stress imposed by the global coronavirus pandemic, parents have found solace in the fact that young COVID-19 patients usually exhibit mild symptoms, or none at all. According to a study cited by the CDC, 13% of children who get the virus are asymptomatic.
But recently, pediatricians share stories of infected children in rare cases who fall ill with a life-threatening inflammatory syndrome called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).
Should parents be worried, especially when society and the economy start to open again and the children start to venture outside the house more?
To answer this question – and for the latest information about coronavirus and children – we checked in again with UCSF pediatrician Dr. Lisa Dana, who sees hundreds of local children at Golden Gate Pediatrics with seats in both S.F. and Mill Valley and is also part of the clinical faculty at UCSF. (Read the SFGATE interview with Dr. Dana done in March.)
SFGate: What are the symptoms of MIS-C?
Dr. Lisa Dana: Fever, stomach pain, vomiting, rashes, pink eyes and red and cracked lips and tongue. They don’t usually have a cough.
We believe that children with MIS-C on average present 4-6 weeks after they first received coronavirus. They may have few or no symptoms associated with the COVID-19 virus. This is an inflammatory syndrome that occurs later.
SFGate: Which children have the highest risk of MIS-C?
Dr. Fashion: School-aged children appear to be at greater risk for this post-viral inflammatory syndrome.
SFGate: What are the odds of my child suffering from MIS-C?
Dr. Fashion: MIS-C is very rare, but we learn more about this syndrome every day.
We have seen more than 200 cases in the US of MIS-C but there are new reports of this syndrome daily. There has been at least one reported case in South Bay.
SFGate: Have you treated any children with MIS-C?
Dr. Fashion: Thankfully, we have not seen any serious illness in our patient population.
SFGate: When things start to open again, I hear from parents who keep the playground date with the gardens. Is this ok?
Dr. Fashion: It is so important that you continue to exercise social distance and emphasize the importance of this for your children. We all get tired of this virus, but this virus does not lose steam. It’s still a terrible virus.
Young children cannot socially distance themselves when playing with friends in a garden or play structure. A walk to the park with another friend and keeping the six foot long distance is OK, but if you think your preschooler can’t do it then I would go for a walk without friends. Keep in mind that your toddler may not need the same social interaction you need.
SFGate: Is it okay to bring the kids with me to the grocery store?
Dr. Fashion: If possible, do not take your children to the grocery store or pharmacy. The more people in the crowded places, the more likely the virus will continue to spread.
SFGate: Should my child wear a mask?
Dr. Fashion: According to the CDC guidelines, anyone over the age of 2 should wear a mask and should practice at a social distance. According to the CDC, “fabric coatings should not be placed on young children under 2 years of age, someone who has difficulty breathing or is unconscious, unable or otherwise unable to remove the cover without assistance.”
Masks reduce the transmission of this virus. If your 4-year-old does not wear a mask, he may suffer from COVID-19 and may not show symptoms, but may transmit the virus to your family. Not only is it enough for mom or dad to wear a mask. The kids have to carry them too.
A worm with ear loops that fit well above the nose is the best option.
Parents can practice mask-wearing with their children at home.
SFGate: Is it okay to take the kids with me for walks with the dog? Can my child pet other people’s dogs?
Dr. Fashion: Take your family on a walk with your dog. You should stay away from other families. You should never be so close to another family that you can pet their dog.
SFGate: Can children visit their grandparents?
Dr. Fashion: Extended families begin to meet and protect together. Grandparents help with childcare as parents continue to work from home and juggle childcare and work. This comes with risk, and each family evaluates this risk based on the recommendations of the CDC and California Department of Public Health. I think it is still safest to protect themselves from grandparents as they are at increased risk of complications from Coronavirus. The best way you can keep your grandparents alive is to Facetime with them or call them.
SFGate: What should I do if I think my child has a coronavirus?
Dr. Fashion: If you are worried that your child may have COVID-19, call your doctor to schedule an appointment for advice on how to manage symptoms and set a time. In our office, we see patients practically whenever possible. It is best to stay at home. If your child has difficulty breathing and has difficulty breathing, go to the emergency room and / or call 911.
SFGate: My child will have one year of control. Do I still have to go?
Dr. Fashion: Yes. You should keep your routine scheduled check-ups. Your one-year-old will receive important vaccines to keep him healthy.
SFGate: If my child has an injury, is the emergency room safe?
Dr. Fashion: Yes. ER is safe. Do not delay getting emergency care for your child. If you have any problems, call your doctor.
SFGate: If I have an acute medical question, what should I do?
Dr. Fashion: Call your doctor. They can schedule a virtual visit. We make virtual visits to our office every day and into the evening.
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Amy Graff is a digital editor with SFGATE. Email her: [email protected]