COLUMBIA, S.C. (WCSC) - More children across the country are testing positive for COVID-19 than ever before, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.
South Carolina pediatricians say the Palmetto State is seeing a similar trend.
According to the AAP, more than 211,000 children contracted COVID-19 during the week of Jan. 14. The previous record was more than 118,000 during the week of Dec. 17.
“I do think it is a true increase based upon holiday travel, family travel, and things of that sort. And in my office, absolutely yes. We saw an increase in that same time frame,” pediatrician Dr. Deborah Greenhouse said.
But Greenhouse said it’s hard to compare cases among children in South Carolina to other states because of how the state defines childhood.
South Carolina is one of two states that sets the cut off for a childhood case at age 20. Most other states define a child as someone younger than the age of 18 or 19.
Greenhouse said our data may be skewed because of this difference in counting because spread among college-aged people is inflating our numbers.
According to Greenhouse, kids in elementary school or pre-kindergarten are less likely to spread the virus than older children, but all kids, on average, get less severely ill than adults.
Because cases among children may be milder than adults, Greenhouse suggests staying on alert for any signs of infection that could later infect parents or grandparents.
“More common symptoms in young children with COVID are going to be more typical cold or flu symptoms: congestion, runny nose, cough. They may or may not have a fever. Fairly frequently, they will have gastrointestinal symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain,” she explained. “The problem if you are thinking, ‘gosh it can be anything,’ yes it can be anything,” she added.
The virus can also infect any child at any age. Greenhouse said recently one of her colleagues cared for a mother, father, and newborn who all tested positive for the coronavirus.
“As the infection increases in the state, obviously, more pregnant women will catch it as well,” she said.
However, Greenhouse said there isn’t enough data to determine if a pregnant mother can transmit the virus to a child still in the womb.
For older children, Greenhouse cautioned people from looking at this data and deciding whether students should return to in-person learning full time.
“I’m seeing more kids with anxiety, more kids with depression, more kids who are cutting, more kids with social isolation than I’ve ever seen in my career and I’ve been in practice over 25 years. I’ve never seen anything like this before,” she said.
Greenhouse added if proper precautions are put in place, kids can go to class safely because children, especially younger than age 10, rarely transmit the virus between themselves.
However, there is a risk of children contracting the virus from adults or adults spreading it to each other in a school setting.