Coronavirus and Children: Expert Advice from Prof. Karina Butler

In an Irish Times article Karina Butler, UCD Professor of Clinical Paediatrics and infectious disease specialist at Children’s Health Ireland, discusses what we know so far about COVID-19 in children, and advises parents and carers on ‘red flag’ symptoms to look out for.

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Early indications based on relatively scarce – but increasing – data are that children who contract the virus generally have milder symptoms than adults and have a better prognosis. To date, deaths in children resulting from COVID-19 infection are extremely rare.

Prof. Butler advises that the management of symptoms of COVID-19 in children – fever, cough, runny nose, and in some cases gastrointestinal illness – is the same as for any other viral illness, including administering paracetamol in the first instance.

Prof. Butler also highlights a number of key symptoms that parents should watch out for: increased difficulty breathing, lethargy, and low fluid intake. In such cases, she advises parents to seek a medical opinion.

With our health services stretched to capacity, and understandably focused on patients presenting with symptoms of COVID-19, it’s important to remember and acknowledge that other illnesses have not gone away. There is concern that parents might be more reluctant to seek medical help for non-COVID illnesses, but Prof. Butler is keen to allay the fear of seeking medical help at this time: “The emergency rooms are open for business for all those normal things. We don’t want to be missing things because people are holding back because they are afraid of Covid.”