3 Effects Of COVID-19 On Children

by Kroger Health Staff

Last Updated: May 13, 2020

Throughout the developments and learnings of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is clear the elderly and individuals with chronic respiratory, cardiovascular or other diseases are at highest risk of symptoms and worsening condition. However, no demographic has been completely immune from the impact of coronavirus infection, including children. In addition to physical health, the mental health and social development of children may also be adversely affected by the long-term isolation enacted to prevent the pandemic’s spread. It’s important to be aware of the risks, which will enable you to communicate openly and take proactive steps to keep your children strong and healthy.
  1. Physical health.
    More children are suffering from a rare inflammatory syndrome that is likely linked to COVID-19. The condition has been named Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome, and it mostly affects toddlers and elementary school-age children. While it is likely connected to the novel coronavirus, some young patients haven’t had the respiratory distress commonly associated with COVID-19. Typical symptoms include a high fever that lasts several days, difficulty eating, sharp abdominal pains with frequent vomiting and diarrhea, racing heart or chest pain, and a change in skin color, either becoming pale, patchy, or blue. Some of the symptoms can resemble a rare childhood illness called Kawasaki Disease Shock Syndrome, which causes symptoms such as fever, rash, pink eye, red lips, swollen hands, and feet. Some of the more severe cases have even included enlarged coronary arteries, and a few young patients have required the use of ventilators during treatment. While some children have died, the good news is most of those diagnosed with Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome are responding well to treatment.
  2. Mental health.
    As children grow accustomed to playing in isolation, more parents are worried about the mental health impact the COVID-19 pandemic is having on young people. Many children and teens harbor fears about the disease and its effect on the economy. They are concerned it will affect their loved ones, and some are even dealing with the loss of friends and family.

    With concern about health and the economy, compounded with the tension that rises with seclusion, the stress level in homes is increasing. Because of school closures, more children are spending significantly more time at home than usual. Many countries have been reporting increased rates of domestic abuse since the pandemic began.
  3. Social development.
    Social distancing may be difficult for children and teens and may harm children’s social development. Play facilitates cognitive development and helps young children develop social skills. Older children and teens may be missing sporting activities and social events. High schoolers are missing many milestone events in their lives, including proms and graduations. To help young people cope and combat loneliness, children may require more playful one-on-one attention from parents during the crisis, whether they request it or not.

To best support your children during this difficult time, give them plenty of attention, limit screen time, and avoid making frequent references to the current crisis. Take advantage of the time that would usually be spent on sports or other organized activities to go for walks in new areas, talk about what you see or learn, and take pictures together as a family. It will take a bit of intentionality, but your efforts will go a long way.

Overall, it is clear now that there are no groups spared by the COVID-19 pandemic. The long term effects on physical health and mental health remain to be seen. As information is still changing and evolving at a rapid pace, be sure to check The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website for the most up-to-date information, and remember to focus on the positive aspects of this stressful situation.

Disclaimer: The information in this story is accurate as of its publication. However, the situation surrounding COVID-19 is ever-evolving. We are working to keep our stories up-to-date as changes occur, but we also encourage everyone to check news and recommendations from the CDC, WHO, and their local authorities.