Clinical and Epidemiological Features of 36 Children With Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Zhejiang, China: An Observational Cohort Study

Lancet Infect Dis. 2020 Jun;20(6):689-696. doi: 10.1016/S1473-3099(20)30198-5. Epub 2020 Mar 25.

Abstract

Background: Since December, 2019, an outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has spread globally. Little is known about the epidemiological and clinical features of paediatric patients with COVID-19.

Methods: We retrospectively retrieved data for paediatric patients (aged 0-16 years) with confirmed COVID-19 from electronic medical records in three hospitals in Zhejiang, China. We recorded patients' epidemiological and clinical features.

Findings: From Jan 17 to March 1, 2020, 36 children (mean age 8·3 [SD 3·5] years) were identified to be infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. The route of transmission was by close contact with family members (32 [89%]) or a history of exposure to the epidemic area (12 [33%]); eight (22%) patients had both exposures. 19 (53%) patients had moderate clinical type with pneumonia; 17 (47%) had mild clinical type and either were asymptomatic (ten [28%]) or had acute upper respiratory symptoms (seven [19%]). Common symptoms on admission were fever (13 [36%]) and dry cough (seven [19%]). Of those with fever, four (11%) had a body temperature of 38·5°C or higher, and nine (25%) had a body temperature of 37·5-38·5°C. Typical abnormal laboratory findings were elevated creatine kinase MB (11 [31%]), decreased lymphocytes (11 [31%]), leucopenia (seven [19%]), and elevated procalcitonin (six [17%]). Besides radiographic presentations, variables that were associated significantly with severity of COVID-19 were decreased lymphocytes, elevated body temperature, and high levels of procalcitonin, D-dimer, and creatine kinase MB. All children received interferon alfa by aerosolisation twice a day, 14 (39%) received lopinavir-ritonavir syrup twice a day, and six (17%) needed oxygen inhalation. Mean time in hospital was 14 (SD 3) days. By Feb 28, 2020, all patients were cured.

Interpretation: Although all paediatric patients in our cohort had mild or moderate type of COVID-19, the large proportion of asymptomatic children indicates the difficulty in identifying paediatric patients who do not have clear epidemiological information, leading to a dangerous situation in community-acquired infections.

Funding: Ningbo Clinical Research Center for Children's Health and Diseases, Ningbo Reproductive Medicine Centre, and Key Scientific and Technological Innovation Projects of Wenzhou.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asymptomatic Infections
  • Betacoronavirus
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • China / epidemiology
  • Coronavirus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / physiopathology*
  • Coronavirus Infections / therapy
  • Cough / etiology
  • Female
  • Fever / etiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / physiopathology*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / therapy
  • Retrospective Studies

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2