OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) - As many American families stay indoors to slow the spread of COVID-19, parents are often concerned about how the virus might affect their children.
For weeks, experts have stressed that children often have less severe symptoms after contracting the virus as compared to adults. In fact, there have been several cases where children who tested positive for COVID-19 showed no symptoms at all.
"Well, I think the most important thing that people should know is that, in general, children are very much protected as compared to the adult population," said Dr. Morris Gessouroun, M.D., Chair of Pediatrics at OU Children’s Hospital.
A study published online in the medical journal Pediatrics on Monday examined 731 confirmed and 1,412 suspected cases of COVID-19 in children.
More than 90% of all pediatric patients were asymptomatic, or showing mild or common forms of illness.
About 13% of patients who tested positive for the virus did not show symptoms of illness. Out of the combined 2,143 cases, one child, a 14-year-old boy, died and nearly 6% of cases were severe.
"What parents and families should know is that their kids are, unless they have certain pre-existing conditions, are relatively well protected from this disease process, and that's the good news," said Dr. Gessouroun.
At this point, researchers are not sure why children with COVID-19 were not as ill as adults.
However, experts say children should still practice social distancing, especially when it comes to vulnerable populations.
"The more concerning news is that although they don't get sick, they do and can carry the virus, and therefore, can spread it," he said.
Doctors say that although it might be hard, children should keep their distance from the elderly, like grandparents, as much as possible.
Also, officials stress that children should not go to the hospital if it is not necessary.
"Moving forward, our community is going to depend on our healthcare providers staying healthy. So therefore, it's really important that, as much as possible, they don't get exposed to people who are infected who don't need our care. So anybody that's minimally ill should really not come to the emergency room, not automatically go to a doctor's office or clinic. If they do have concerns, if they are getting ill or their children are getting ill, call first. That helps prepare the providers to know what to do when they get there in order to be able to provide the appropriate isolation procedures so that we're not transmitting the virus any more than we have to," he said.