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Rush Your Child To The Hospital If They Have These COVID-19 Symptoms, Says Doctor
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  • Citing the Department of Health’s (DOH) February 2021 data, the president of the Pediatric Infectious Diseases Society of the Philippines (PIDSP), Dr. Mary Ann Bunyi, said that of the 48,000 children infected with COVID-19, 40.2% are ages 15-19, 17.4% are ages 5-9, and 18.5% are ages 4 and below.

    As of August 13, 2021, the number of COVID-19 cases among children is at 176,000 with 466 deaths. These numbers are a strong indication that children are now just as vulnerable to the virus as adults. Experts attribute this development to the highly contagious Delta variant. Globally, children account for up to 15 % of confirmed COVID-19 cases, says Bunyi in an Inquirer.net report.

    It is because of this susceptibility that Dr. Maria Cristina I. Alberto, a pediatric medicine specialist, would like to remind parents how crucial it is for children NOT to miss their scheduled immunization (such as the flu vaccinepolio, Measle Mumps, Rubella (MMR vaccine), pneumococcal or PCV vaccine, among others) to give them that extra layer of protection.

    The reality is “even small babies get COVID,” Dr. Alberto says.

    While cases in children are generally mild, those who are immunocompromised may end up in the hospital. And, even if our kids are in the best of health, it still doesn’t mean parents can be more relaxed with protocols when it comes to them.

    “May mga nakikita ako na pag pumunta sa clinic, naka-full PPE ang magulang pero ang mga anak or babies wala kasi nga we don’t advise [wearing of masks for two years old below]. Still, you are potentially exposing your children to COVID sa loob ng clinics,” warns Dr. Alberto who deals with COVID patients both at a clinic where she is the chief clinician and through teleconsult.

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    Rare COVID-19 symptoms in children

    The symptoms of COVID-19 in children are similar to adults, says Dr. Alberto. This includes fever, colds, cough, malaise (discomfort), and body pain.

    “Some will have gastrointestinal symptoms like diarrhea and abdominal pain while some will have rashes and conjunctivitis (sore eyes),” she adds.

    However, Dr. Alberto says there are rare symptoms that parents should watch out for. One of them are signs and symptoms that are similar to Kawasaki disease, an acquired heart disease in children that creates inflammation in the blood vessels, particularly the coronary arteries. Symptoms may include fever, red eyes, swollen lymph nodes, and peeling of the skin.

    Another rare symptom is MIS-C or Multisystemic Inflammatory Syndrome in Children. “This causes swelling in the brain, heart, lungs and gastrointestinal tract and can be dangerous and fatal,” she explains. (Read more about it symptoms here.)

    When to bring your child to the hospital

    How will you know if your child needs to be brought to the hospital for COVID? “The symptoms to watch out for are almost similar to the indication for adults,” says Dr. Alberto.

    • Difficulty breathing
    • Persistent chest pain
    • Changes in sensorium
    • Severe dehydration
    • Low blood pressure
    • Poor pulse

    For any parent, bringing a child to the hospital for COVID is hopefully the last option given the challenges that many hospitals are facing due to the rise in cases. Again, Dr. Alberto, who is also an active member of the Philippine Foundation for Vaccination, zeroes in on the importance of prevention which starts in the home.

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    1. Get vaccinated if you are pregnant

    Studies have shown that pregnant women may pass their antibodies to their newborns.

    2. Breastfeed

    Dr. Alberto, an advocate of breastfeeding, can’t emphasize enough the importance of breasfeeding especially during the pandemic. She says that the milk from mother’s breast contains antibodies to protect babies from a wide range of other sickness.

    3. Get children vaccinated for other preventable diseases

    “The antibodies from other illnesses might be able to cross protect them from Covid,” Dr. Alberto says. 

    4. Make sure children eat healthy

    Obesity, whether young or old, contributes to how well a person with Covid may recover from the disease.

    5. If pregnant, try to stay at home

    We all know that the more we stay at home, the lesser our exposure to the virus. “If you are pregnant, as much as possible huwag ka na lumabas. Mag-online shopping ka na lang,” Dr. Alberto suggests.

    6. Avoid visitors

    Many COVID cases were the result of a casual and quick visit by close relatives. Remember, when you let them in you are not only posing a danger to yourself but to the rest of the people who live in your home. So, stick to online gatherings at this time to protect everyone in the household.

    Mom whose three children survived COVID-19 shares her experience here.

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