Children have made up only a small fraction of those hospitalized with COVID-19—but experts say the coronavirus can affect them in unexpected ways and it is a mistake to think of them as immune. According to a recent study looking at five children under 6 hospitalized in Wuhan, China, four of them had digestive tract problems, including diarrhea and vomiting, as the first symptoms, LiveScience reports. "Most children are only mildly affected by COVID-19 and the few severe cases often have underlying health issues," said the lead author, Dr. Wenbin Li. "It is easy to miss its diagnosis in the early stage, when a child has non-respiratory symptoms or suffers from another illness." He suspects the children were infected via the digestive tract.
Doctors say they are also concerned by the rise in cases in the US and worldwide of children being hospitalized with a dangerous inflammatory syndrome. Researchers believe the mysterious syndrome is linked to COVID-19. During his testimony before a Senate panel Tuesday, Anthony Fauci said we should not be "cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects." He was responding to Sen. Rand Paul, who said it was "ridiculous" to suggest schools might have to stay closed this fall. The Guardian notes that while children make up fewer than 2% of confirmed coronavirus cases, relatively few have been tested and studies have reached different conclusions on whether they are as likely as adults to get infected. (Read more coronavirus stories.)