COVID-19 in the Pediatric Population-Review and Current Evidence

Curr Infect Dis Rep. 2020;22(11):29. doi: 10.1007/s11908-020-00739-6. Epub 2020 Sep 19.


Purpose of review: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has major health and economic impacts. We review disease characteristics in children.

Recent findings: Children comprise 1-2% of the diagnosed cases, and typically suffer mild disease. The median age of infected children is 3.3-11 years, and male/female ratio is 1.15-1.55. Common symptoms in children include upper respiratory symptoms (26-54%), cough (44-54%), fever (32-65%), and gastrointestinal (15-30%) symptoms. Substantial proportion (4-23%) are asymptomatic. Death rates are up to 0.7%. Risk factors associated with severe disease are neonatal age group, male gender, lower respiratory tract disease, and pre-existing medical conditions. Vertical transmission was reported. Multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS), characterized by fever, multisystem organ involvement, and laboratory markers of inflammation, causes critical illness in > 50% of cases and is increasingly reported from endemic countries. Indirect effects of the coronavirus epidemic include higher rates of psychiatric morbidities, education loss, unhealthy lifestyle changes, and increased child neglect. Vaccines are in clinical trials and immunogenicity has not yet been shown in children.

Summary: Overall, COVID-19 has lower incidence and causes milder disease in children compared with adult patients. MIS is a rare severe complication more common in children. More data on the efficacy and safety of antivirals in children are needed.

Keywords: COVID-19; Multisystem inflammatory syndrome; Pediatric infection; SARS-CoV2.

Publication types

  • Review