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A new study examines 48 children who got critically ill with the new coronavirus, 40 of whom had pre-existing conditions.

35 of them had trouble breathing properly, and some of them were treated with hydroxychloroquine and remdesivir.

The study authors noted that this study is evidence that children can get dangerously ill with COVID-19, but that the likelihood of that was still rare.

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A new study shows that the effects of COVID-19 on children can be just as devastating as it is on adults, albeit in a minority of patients, despite some reports that we shouldn’t be too concerned about the youngest in society during the pandemic.

The research, published in JAMA Pediatrics, examined 48 cases of children who had been admitted into 14 different pediatric intensive care units in the United States and Canada between late March and early April. Forty of these children had pre-existing conditions like cancer and cerebral palsy, 35 had trouble with their breathing, and 18 required ventilators.

By the end of the study, two children had died, 15 remained in the hospital, and three were relying on ventilators to breathe.

This study “confirms that severe illness in children is significant but far less frequent than in adults,” the study authors wrote, adding that “prehospital comorbidities appear to be an important factor in children.”

Without any clear treatment options for the novel coronavirus, the children were treated with a variety of different experimental medications, including the President Trump-touted hydroxychloroquine, which was used most often, and the anti-viral remdesivir. Doctors also used more established treatment of plasma exchange and oxygen therapy.

None of the children were diagnosed with the mysterious condition that doctors have linked with the new coronavirus. Some experts have theorized that the inflammatory disease, which has symptoms that are very similar to Kawasaki disease, is the result of a child’s immune system hyper-reacting to the coronavirus.

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It is still rare for a child to get critically sick with COVID-19

The study does not contradict the notion that children getting critically ill with coronavirus is still a rare phenomenon, and that critically ill adults with coronavirus have a much higher fatality rate than critically ill children. 

Most of the 46 hospitals the study authors reached out to reported no children being admitted during the time the study was taking place. Only 16 had cases, and only 14 reported their data in time for it to be included in the study.

According to the CDC, just 2% of confirmed COVID-19 cases in America occurred in children.

“Of the 48 children in this series, 18 required invasive ventilation and all but 2 survived, reflecting the markedly decreased burden of disease from COVID-19 in children compared with adults,” the study authors wrote. Children had a mortality rate of 6%, which, when compared with an adult mortality rate of 50% to 62%, was reason enough for study authors to be “cautiously encouraged.” 

But as with adults, when children with pre-existing conditions get sick, it can be dangerous.

The National Institutes of Health is funding a new study examining what percentage of children are getting infected with COVID-19, and if that rate differs in children who have asthma or allergies.

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