How does COVID-19 disease affect children?

Young child wearing a respiratory mask as a prevention against the deadly Coronavirus Covid-19

Bottom Line:

According to data from the Coronavirus Infection in Pediatric Emergency Departments (CONFIDENCE) study and three additional studies, most children with COVID-19 had exposure to SARS-CoV-2 from an unknown source or source outside the child’s family, developed mild to moderate disease, and did not require respiratory support. 


Parri, N. et al. Children with Covid-19 in Pediatric Emergency Departments in Italy. New England Journal of Medicine (2020). DOI: 10.1056/NEJMc2007617

Date Published:

1 May 2020


The CONFIDENCE study looked at the features and outcomes of COVID-19 disease in children under 18 years of age, where the median age was 3.3 years. 55% of the infection cases involved exposure to SARS-CoV-2 from an unknown source or source outside the child’s family. Common symptoms of pediatric COVID-19 included cough (44%) and reduced feeding (23%). 4% had oxygen saturation values <95%, all of whom had some lung involvement seen by imaging. 12% of the children appeared ill, and 54% had a high temperature (>37.6°C). This study, as well as others ultimately found that a significant proportion of children did not have symptoms and the majority, including infants had mild disease. A lower incidence was also reported, through apparent exposure to family, and fewer patients with moderate-to-severe disease. This report improves our understanding of the overall impact of COVID-19 on children.

Summary by: Sheida Naderi-Azad