Infection With 2019 Novel Coronavirus Extends
to Infants

Heidi Splete

February 18, 2020


Nine infants younger than 1 year of age were infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 and hospitalized in China between Dec. 8, 2019, and Feb. 6, 2020, based on data from the Chinese central government and local health departments.

"As of February 6, 2020, China reported 31,211 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 637 fatalities," wrote Min Wei, MD, of Wuhan University, China, and colleagues. However, "few infections in children have been reported."

In a research letter published in JAMA, the investigators reviewed data from nine infants aged 28 days to 1 year who were hospitalized with a diagnosis of COVID-19 between Dec. 8, 2019, and Feb. 6, 2020. The ages of the infants ranged from 1 month to 11 months, and seven were female. The patients included two children from Beijing, two from Hainan, and one each from the areas of Guangdong, Anhui, Shanghai, Zhejiang, and Guizhou.

All infected infants had at least one infected family member, and the infants' infections occurred after the family members' infections; seven infants lived in Wuhan or had family members who had visited Wuhan.

One of the infants had no symptoms but tested positive for the 2019 novel coronavirus, and two others had a diagnosis but missing information on any symptoms. Fever occurred in four patients, and mild upper respiratory tract symptoms occurred in two patients.

None of the infants died, and none reported severe complications or the need for intensive care or mechanical ventilation, the investigators said. The fact that most of the infants were female might suggest that they are more susceptible to the virus than males, although overall COVID-19 viral infections have been more common in adult men, especially those with chronic comorbidities, Dr. Wei and associates noted.

The study findings were limited by the small sample size and lack of symptom data for some patients, the researchers said. However, the results confirm that the COVID-19 virus is transmissible to infants younger than 1 year, and adult caregivers should exercise protective measures including wearing masks, washing hands before contact with infants, and routinely sterilizing toys and tableware, they emphasized.

The study was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China and the Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities. The researchers had no financial conflicts to disclose.

SOURCE: Wei M et al. JAMA. 2020 Feb 14. doi:10.1001/jama.2020.2131.

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