Are the symptoms of COVID-19 different in children?

In a Nutshell

  • Compared to adults, children develop less severe illness with COVID-19 infection
  • Symptoms of COVID illness in children are same as adults and include fever, sore throat & dry cough
  • Male children are more susceptible to get the infection compared to female children

COVID-19 and Children

Researchers are investigating the risk factors, symptoms, and complications of COVID-19 among general population since early 2020. From preliminary data, it can be safely concluded that children are less susceptible to develop severe disease with novel coronavirus. More research is underway to identify what are some factors that may make some children more likely to develop the COVID-19.

Verdict -Are the symptoms of COVID-19 different in children?

No, children and adults present with similar symptoms of COVID-19. The degree and seriousness of illness may vary from person to person. Most people who are infected with this novel virus presents with flu like symptoms, such as:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing

Are children at higher risk of developing COVID-19?

Based on available data, it has been suggested that children are at lower risk of developing COVID-19 infection. Although, cases in children and infants have been reported, but the overall incidence (number of new cases), morbidity (severity of illness) and mortality (death rate) are low in children compared to adults. In addition, fewer children require hospitalization with COVID-19 infection (5.6% to 20%) compared to adults (10% to 30%).

Among children, infants are at higher risk of developing severe disease (11%) compared to older children 4% in children 4 years to 16 years.

What are some risk factors that may make your child more at risk of developing COVID-19?

Based on data, it has been observed that male children are more likely to develop COVID-19 compared to female children. From the number of reported pediatric cases, 57% pediatric patients were males and 43% were females. Investigators suggested that some biological factors may explain this genetic predominance.

It has also been observed that most children who developed the COVID-19 infection also had a history of an underlying illness or disease such as:

  • Chronic lung conditions such as asthma
  • Immunosuppression
  • Heart disease

How can I protect my child/children from COVID-19?

Encourage your child to follow the same standard safety protocols that are advised for adults, such as:

  • Avoid touching your face, eyes, or mouth unnecessarily
  • Avoid any type of physical contact with people who are sick or are exposed to virus somehow
  • Stay indoors and maintain at least 6 feet distance when outside
  • Cover your mouth and nose while sneezing with a tissue (make sure to discard the tissue properly after use)
  • Encourage them to wash their hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as frequently as possible
  • If soap and water is not available, show them how to use hand sanitizer properly (make sure to get a hand sanitizer that is at least 60% alcohol)
  • You as a parent should make sure to disinfect all high traffic spots to provide a germ-free clean environment for the kids (such as doorknobs, cabinet doors, play area, entry ways etc.)


What can I do if my child gets exposed to COVID-19?

Speak to your child’s pediatrician over the phone. Do not visit ER or doctor’s office unless symptoms are severe. It is also recommended to quarantine your entire family to limit the spread of infection. Do not let your child or family get in contact with any elderly (over the age of 60 years). If your child has developed fever and sore throat, opt for over the counter symptomatic relief. Stay in touch with your doctor and monitor your child’s symptoms carefully.


Strength of Evidence
: B
The recommendations and inferences drawn in this article are based on some small-scale studies and ongoing investigation by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization.


Our Ruling

Although children are less likely to develop severe disease with COVID-19, it is strongly recommended to maintain optimal caution and care. It has also been observed that symptoms of COVID-19 are same among children and adults.


Our Sources:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/faq.html#Children
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/daily-life-coping/children/mis-c.html
  3. https://www.choa.org/medical-services/wellness-and-preventive-care/covid19
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How we grade evidence?

Learn more about it here.