Last updated March 24, 2020
If you or one of your loved ones is a UCSF pediatric patient, get answers here to important questions about coronavirus (COVID-19) and how to minimize your risk of infection.
Are children more susceptible to the virus that causes COVID-19 compared with the general population, and how can infection be prevented?
No, there is no evidence that children are more susceptible. Although infections in children have been reported, including very young children, most confirmed cases of COVID-19 have occurred in adults.
Infection among children was fairly uncommon during prior severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreaks. Children and their family members should engage in usual preventive actions to prevent the spread of respiratory infections, including covering coughs, cleaning hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoiding people who are sick, and staying up-to-date on vaccinations, including influenza vaccine.
Does the clinical presentation of COVID-19 differ in children compared with adults?
Limited reports of children with COVID-19 in China have described coldlike symptoms, such as fever, runny nose and cough. Gastrointestinal symptoms, particularly vomiting, as well as runny nose and sore throat may be more prominent in children than adults.
Are children at increased risk for severe illness, morbidity or mortality from COVID-19 infection compared with adults?
There have been very few reports of the clinical outcomes for children with COVID-19 to date. Limited data from China suggest that children with confirmed COVID-19 may present with mild symptoms, and though severe complications (acute respiratory distress syndrome, septic shock) have been reported, they appear to be uncommon. However, as with other respiratory illnesses, certain populations of children may be at increased risk of severe infection, such as children with underlying health conditions.
Are there any treatments available for children with COVID-19?
There are currently no antiviral drugs recommended or licensed by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for COVID-19. Clinical management includes prompt implementation of recommended infection prevention and control measures in health care settings and supportive management of complications. See the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s clinical guidance for COVID-19. Children and their family members should engage in usual preventive actions to prevent the spread of respiratory infections, including covering coughs, cleaning hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, avoiding people who are sick, and staying up-to-date on vaccinations, including influenza vaccine.
UCSF Health medical specialists have reviewed this information. It is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or other health care provider. We encourage you to discuss any questions or concerns you may have with your provider.