SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4)- A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association says children are just as susceptible as adults to being infected with COVID-19. The findings challenge the misconception that adults are more prone to becoming infected than children are.
The study also found that while children were just as prone to contracting COVID-19 — a portion of those who were infected did not show symptoms of the disease. The likelihood of a person becoming infected in a household where a person already has the coronavirus is 52%.
The study was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in partnership with the University of Utah, Columbia University, Marshfield Virology Laboratory, and Abt Associates.
During the initial stages of the pandemic, children made up a small portion of COVID-19 cases. However, early observations did not detect specific scenarios where children were actually infected and it was suspected that they either weren’t or could not be infected.
“Often, it seemed like children weren’t sick because they didn’t have any symptoms,” U of U Health professor Christina Porucznik said. “But some were actually infected and they could still spread COVID-19.”
The study was conducted by examining 310 households with one or more children between the ages of 0 to 17 in Utah and New York City. Roughly 1,236 participants were tested for the SARS-CoV-2 infection and submitted questionnaires about their symptoms. Each person was observed for 17 weeks. The results were from September 2020 through April 2021 before the Delta variant emerged in the United States.
The end result of the study showed that children and adults 18 and older had similar infection rates. Children were found to be asymptomatic in half of the cases compared to 88% of adult cases. The mean risk of infection in a household was 40% in Utah and 80% in New York City.
U of U Health says more research is still needed to know whether other factors such as housing density and the emergence of the Delta variant had any influence on the difference in infection rates in Utah and New York City.
The study’s results highlight how children’s infection of COVID-19 goes undetected, according to Porucznik. She says in the meantime, it is important for them to take the necessary precautions to keep themselves and others safe.
“We know that until kids can be vaccinated, it’s still important for them to wear masks when they’re in groups and to keep them apart,” she said. “And most of all, when they are sick, keep them home.”
For more details on the study, click here.