Are young children more prone to infection post-pandemic?

September 14, 2022
Children who were confined to their homes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic likely experienced poor

Children who were confined to their homes throughout the COVID-19 pandemic likely experienced poor immune development and suffer consequences as a result: many children have taken ill soon after the reopening of school, leaving parents worried that their children may be immunocompromised.

Children are expected to be at a higher risk of infection due to the “long COVID” syndrome as well as for reasons including adverse childhood experiences and disruptions to children-centered health services. However, instead of seeking professional advice, some people have decided to take matters into their own hands and go to extreme lengths to create a clean environment to “protect” their children – these kids are not allowed to to play or touch anything/anyone that has not been properly sanitised.

Although infections are a legitimate cause for concern, and while a certain level of cleanliness is necessary, children need to develop an immunity to common pathogens. Overprotecting children from germs is detrimental to their healthy development.

Parents can implement simple changes to the family routine when it comes to the art of balancing between a clean environment rather than a sterile environment.

Some parents may wonder whether hand washing, or sanitising is the better way to prevent the spread of germs. Numerous studies prove that soap and water are better equipped to remove more germs than hand sanitisers. It is recommended to use hand sanitisers when washing with soap is not an option.

Vitamin supplementation is also advised, especially for those who are unable to obtain the necessary vitamins from their diet. For example, vitamin D supplements are recommended to those who are unable to obtain an adequate amount of vitamin D from their diet or have inadequate exposure to sunlight, at a minimum of 400 IU (10 µg/day). A daily vitamin D intake of 2000IU or more predisposes individuals to vitamin D toxicity which includes symptoms such as headaches, a metallic taste in one’s mouth, nausea, and vomiting.

Dr. Lim Yin Sear, Senior Lecturer of Paediatrics and Dr. Mahfuzah Mohamed, Guest Lecturer of Paediatrics, School of Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, both Taylor’s University, Malaysia, suggest parents act as role models for their children and take on a healthier lifestyle.

Parents can restore a three-meal-a-day diet, and allow children to enjoy at least 60 minutes of physical activities every day. It is also important to decrease a child’s screen time and to have routine sleeping habits for good quality sleep. For reference, the American Academy of Paediatrics has recommended no more than two hours of screen time for children and teenagers, and no screen time for children under two years old.

In addition, parents should reschedule all the health visits and preventive care services including dental checks up, optometrist visits, and immunisations that their child may have missed. Do not buy over-counter antibiotics or reuse leftover medicine. If your child is immunocompromised or unwell, it is always advisable to seek professional advice from your family physician or a paediatrician.

Below are some tell-tale signs of an immunocompromised child:

  • Frequent and recurrent pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections, ear infections, meningitis, or skin infections
  • Inflammation and infection of internal organs
  • Blood disorders, such as low platelet count or anaemia
  • Digestive problems, such as cramping, loss of appetite, nausea, and diarrhoea
  • Delayed growth and development
  • Autoimmune disorders, such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or type 1 diabetes

The physicians conclude, it is of utmost importance that as parents, you create a clean and happy environment for your children to thrive in, both for their mental and physical health.


Category: Community, Features

Comments are closed.