COVID-19 Infection in Children: Diagnosis and Management

Curr Infect Dis Rep. 2022;24(4):51-62. doi: 10.1007/s11908-022-00779-0. Epub 2022 Apr 11.


Purpose of review: Due to the rapidly changing landscape of COVID-19, the purpose of this review is to provide a concise and updated summary of pediatric COVID-19 diagnosis and management.

Recent findings: The relative proportion of pediatric cases have significantly increased following the emergence of the Omicron variant (from < 2% in the early pandemic to 25% from 1/27 to 2/3/22). While children present with milder symptoms than adults, severe disease can still occur, particularly in children with comorbidities. There is a relative paucity of pediatric data in the management of COVID-19 and the majority of recommendations remain based on adult data.

Summary: Fever and cough remain the most common clinical presentations, although atypical presentations such as "COVID toes," anosmia, and croup may be present. Children are at risk for post-infectious complications such as MIS-C and long COVID. Nucleic acid amplification tests through respiratory PCR remain the mainstay of diagnosis. The mainstay of management remains supportive care and prevention through vaccination is highly recommended. In patients at increased risk of progression, interventions such as monoclonal antibody therapy, PO Paxlovid, or IV remdesivir × 3 days should be considered. In patients with severe disease, the use of remdesivir, dexamethasone, and immunomodulatory agents (tocilizumab, baricitinib) is recommended. Children can be at risk for thrombosis from COVID-19 and anticoagulation is recommended in children with markedly elevated D-dimer levels or superimposed clinical risk factors for hospital associated venous thromboembolism.

Keywords: COVID-19; Diagnosis; Management; Pediatrics; SARS-CoV-2; Treatment.

Publication types

  • Review