Researchers analyzing children’s case data observe concerning variation in regional trends
The number of children infected with COVID-19 rose dramatically between April and September 2020, rising from 2.2% to 10% of all cumulative reported COVID-19 cases nationwide, according to research by the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.
The study, “National Trends of Cases of COVID-19 in Children Based on US State Health Department Data,” will be published in the December issue of Pediatrics (published online Sept. 29).
“These rising numbers concern us greatly, as the children’s cases reflect the increasing virus spread in our communities,” said AAP President Sally Goza, MD, FAAP. “While children generally don’t get as sick with the coronavirus as adults, they are not immune and there is much to learn about how easily they can transmit it to others. We must keep our children – and each other -- healthy by following the recommended safety measures like washing hands, wearing cloth face coverings and staying 6 feet apart from others.”
While there are several accessible sources providing data on COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the United States, little information has been reported on pediatric cases. This study focuses on COVID-19 cases, categorized by age group, that are publicly accessible on nearly all state health department websites. The Pediatrics article collects all the data that AAP has been publishing online each week and adds a trend analysis by geographic region and other context.
Researchers analyzed trends over five months in reported COVID-19 cases using data from U.S. public health department websites. As of Sept. 10, there were 549,432 cumulative child COVID-19 cases, a rate of 729 cases per 100,000 children. The study found substantial variation in case growth by region: in April, a preponderance of cases was in the Northeast. In June, cases surged in the South and West, followed by mid-July increases in the Midwest.
While children make up 10 % of cumulative total reported cases since the onset of the pandemic, the trends show that the portion of newly reported COVID-19 cases that are child cases has risen substantially over time. Less than 3% of cases reported the week ending April 23rd were pediatric. However, in the last 8 weeks, children represented between 12-15.9% of newly reported cases each week, according to the study.
As of Sept. 10, children represented 1.7% of total hospitalizations and 0.07% of total deaths and 0.01% of child cases resulted in death.
The data are limited because the states differ in how they report the data, and it is unknown how many children have been infected but not tested. It is unclear how much of the increase in child cases is due to increased testing capacity, although CDC data from public and commercial laboratories show the share of all tests administered to children ages 0-17 has remained stable at 5-7% since late April.
“We will continue to closely monitor children’s cases, with hopes of seeing the upward trend turn around,” Dr. Goza said. “We encourage parents to call their pediatricians and get their children into the office for well visits and vaccinations, especially now that some schools are reopening and flu season has arrived.”
The AAP journals, Pediatrics and Hospital Pediatrics, are pre-publishing articles for free in the interest of sharing information quickly. This article, along with others, will be available here: https://www.aappublications.org/cc/covid-19.
Since the scheduled publication of this Pediatrics article, the number of children’s cases as of Sept. 24, 2020 had risen to 624,890.To find updated data that AAP posts weekly, go to: https://services.aap.org/en/pages/2019-novel-coronavirus-covid-19-infections/children-and-covid-19-state-level-data-report/
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org