Does my baby have coronavirus if she coughs more than usual?
If your child is coughing and you are concerned, contact your child’s health care provider.
Know, though, that coughing is common and may be caused by many common conditions such as a typical viral infection (that is, not a COVID-19 infection) or allergies. Although people (including children) may cough due to COVID-19, coughing in this case is usually associated with fever and difficulty breathing, such as fast breathing and difficulty catching breath. Some children with coronavirus infections can have tummy problems such as diarrhoea and vomiting, which may not be seen in adults.
It is important to remember, though, that even if your child has any or all of these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean he has developed a COVID-19 infection. It is also important to note that most COVID-19 infections in children have not been as severe as they have been in adults. In fact, they may not have any symptoms at all. Considering cases thus far, it is reassuring that it is relatively rare for a child to get critically ill from COVID-19 compared with adults.
Additional situations in which you may want to consult your pediatrician and/or be concerned that your child may have COVID-19 include if your child has:
- Established close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19
- Been contacted by a public health officer of potential exposure to COVID-19
- Recently travel to an area/country with significant community transmission of COVID-19
- Prolonged symptoms, including persistent fever, cough
- Respiratory distress – hard or rapid breathing, struggling to breath, or any difficulty breathing, or bluish lips
- Poor feeding or inability to retain feeds and fluid, especially with reduced urine output
- Change in behaviour of the child – more lethargy, listlessness (low energy), confusion, inability to awaken or severe irritability
Important measures to protect your child (and family) from COVID-19 include:
- Avoid crowded areas and follow local guidelines addressing physical distance and gatherings
- Stay away from anyone who is sick, including family members
- Regular handwashing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Avoid touching the face
- Wipe down surfaces your child regularly touches, including toys
- Stay calm and learn more about the virus and infection and its prevention
If you suspect that your child has Covid-19, consult with your child’s primary care provider and see if it is appropriate to perform a Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test. Be sure to follow the existing community and case management guidelines in your location.
This post was written in the Spring of 2020 and edited in 2022. Please follow your local guidelines and advice from family health care providers for appropriate, current coronavirus safety measures.