Children are affected by COVID-19 less than adults, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) researchers stated in the first pediatric dataset released by U.S. public health officials.
Children accounted for just 1.7 percent of cases while making up 22 percent of America's population.
Data from China suggested COVID-19 cases might be less severe in children than adults, in addition to indicating children might experience different symptoms than adults. Both points were bolstered by the new report, which found that relatively few children with COVID-19 require hospital care. Fewer children than adults, researchers found, experience three of the main symptoms: cough, fever, and shortness of breath.
Characteristics of interest, such as hospitalization and the presence of preexisting conditions, were only available for a minority of the pediatric cases but researchers said the data gleaned from the cases "support previous findings that children with COVID-19 might not have reported fever or cough as often as do adults" and show that "most COVID-19 cases in children are not severe."
Nearly one-third of the cases occurred among children aged 15 to 17, while another 27 percent took place in children between the ages of 10 and 14 years old. Hundreds of cases have occurred in infants and among other young children.
Information on hospitalization status was available for 745 of the child patients. Between 5.7 and 20 percent of those were hospitalized and 2 percent or fewer required intensive care, much lower than the 10 to 33 percent of adults who were hospitalized and the 1.4 to 4.5 percent of adults who were admitted to intensive care units.
The largest groups of children requiring hospital care were those under the age of 1 or those with underlying health conditions.
Among the 345 cases with information on underlying conditions, 80 patients had at least one underlying condition. The most common conditions were a chronic lung disease such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, and immunosuppression.
Federal researchers found three deaths in which youth tested positive for COVID-19 reported among U.S. pediatric cases but stated they are still under review for the cause of death. Deaths caused by COVID-19 among children are extremely rare.
The CDC stated, "Because persons with asymptomatic and mild disease, including children, are likely playing a role in transmission and spread of COVID-19 in the community, social distancing and everyday preventive behaviors are recommended for persons of all ages to slow the spread of the virus, protect the health care system from being overloaded, and protect older adults and persons of any age with serious underlying medical conditions."