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Everything parents of babies need to know about COVID-19

COVID-19 cases are unfortunately on the rise again. However, the spike we’re seeing this year looks a little different than what we saw last year – a larger percentage of cases are coming from children and babies. With this spike, many parents are on high alert and are seeking guidance on COVID-19 presentation, treatment and protection. Here are answers to your most pressing questions.

Can babies get COVID-19?

Yes. Children of all ages can get COVID-19 and babies are unfortunately more likely to spread the virus to others, according to a study from JAMA Pediatrics.

When is my baby most at risk to get COVID-19?

Due to their immature immune system, babies under the age of one are most at risk for catching COVID-19. Parents and caregivers should be mindful of these risks and take proper precaution.

Do COVID-19 symptoms vary for babies?

While symptoms present themselves in a similar way for babies and adults, symptoms are typically less severe for babies. Being tested for COVID-19 is the only way to know whether your child is infected, since infection can occur without symptoms.

Does my baby need to wear a mask?

According to a Kids Health article, babies and toddlers under the age of two should not wear a mask. Masks provide too much of a suffocation risk and should be avoided. Other COVID-19 precautions should be taken such as handwashing and social distancing.

How can I protect my baby from COVID-19?

Since it is not recommended that babies wear masks, the below things can be done to reduce their risk of contracting COVID-19:

  • Practice social distancing, especially around people who are sick.
  • Wash hands often. Babies are notorious for touching their face and sticking their hands in their mouth. Maintain clean hands as much as possible.
  • Limit group activities or going to areas with high transmission rates.
  • Get vaccinated to reduce the chances of bringing COVID-19 into the home.

If I’m pregnant or breastfeeding, should I still get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Yes. The CDC recommends anyone over the age of 12 should receive the vaccine, including those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

For women who are pregnant, the vaccine is safe to receive during your pregnancy. It is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your baby seeing as pregnant women are at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

For women who are breastfeeding, the vaccine is safe and can pass along COVID-19 antibodies to your breastfeeding child, providing them with further protection from the virus.

If you have additional questions about protecting your newborn from COVID-19, consult your pediatrician. Guidelines and recommendations are constantly changing, and they can ensure you’re practicing the latest.

Larry Wu, MD

Larry Wu, MD

Regional Medical Director

Larry is a regional medical director for Blue Cross NC providing consultative services for employee health solutions, prevention, chronic disease, care management, medical expense and utilization management. He's a family physician with over 20 years in clinical practice, has served as clinic director in the Indian Health Service, Kaiser Permanente and Duke Family Medicine and currently maintains a part-time clinical practice.

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