Protecting Our Newborn Babies & Young Children from Coronavirus

Posted by Ellen Stang, MD on Mar 18, 2020 7:00:05 PM

Protecting newborns from coronavirus

We are all facing a dynamic and challenging situation in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. Our families, friends, customers, employees, and communities are all dramatically affected by the impact of the virus and its impact on the global economy. During this time, we wanted to reach out and share how our ProgenyHealth case managers are helping families to keep themselves, their infants and other young children in the family healthy, as well as to share tips on how to reduce your risk of infection.

COVID-19 Illness in Children

Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses which may cause illness in animals or humans.  In humans, several coronaviruses are known to cause respiratory infections ranging from the common cold to more severe respiratory diseases. The most recently discovered coronavirus causes coronavirus disease COVID-19.1

People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. The disease can spread from person to person through small droplets from the nose or mouth which are spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs or exhales. These droplets land on objects and surfaces around the person. Other people then catch COVID-19 by touching these objects or surfaces, then touching their eyes, nose or mouth.1

The current data suggests that the disease burden in this novel coronavirus affects older members of our society disproportionately, when compared to our children. When looking at COVID-19 infection in newborns and children, information from China, and now England, indicates that infants have become infected with COVID-19. However, at this time, the vast majority do not seem to be as severely affected as other age segments. Of the infants who tested positive for COVID-19 in China, almost all of them had a COVID-19 infected family member. So the message is clear that despite this, COVID-19 still has the potential to impact the health of our youngest family members.

What can parents do to protect their families?

The bottom line is that we need to take social distancing seriously so as to limit the exposure and spread of this infection. All babies need to stay healthy, especially those who have spent any period of time in the NICU, and they need their families to be healthy as well.

Below are a few of the recommendations to follow from the CDC website and are worth reinforcing.2

  • Clean hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in household common areas (e.g. tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, remotes, handles, desks, toilets, sinks).
  • Launder items including washable plush toys as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s item.
  • Avoid unnecessary contacts/visits with others and larger gatherings.
  • Put distance between yourself and other people if COVID-19 is spreading in your community (greater than 6 feet apart).
  • Stay home if you feel unwell. If you have a fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical attention and call in advance.

For more information and the latest updates, look to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Infection) or the World Health Organization (WHO), and your local and state departments of health as a trusted source of information.

At ProgenyHealth, our case managers have been working tirelessly to do their part to educate families of premature and medically complex newborns on the above precautions and to make sure they follow up with their primary care doctors if their infants are having any respiratory symptoms, fever, or if there has been an exposure to a confirmed case of COVID -19. They are also making sure that families have resources they can use should they find it difficult to locate formula, baby wipes and diapers. We are so grateful to them for the important work they do each day on behalf of the families we serve.

For families in our case management program, please reach out to your case manager with any questions you may have during this time so we can offer additional support to you as needed.

Most importantly, our hearts go out to anyone impacted by the virus. We remain incredibly grateful to the healthcare workers, first-responders, and other people who work to ensure we have healthcare, food, safety, shelter, and sanitation. Thank you for all you are doing to keep our infants, children and all our families and loved ones healthy as we look ahead to brighter days.

Authors:

Ellie Stang, MD, Chief Executive Officer. Steven Richardson, MD, MS, Chief Medical Officer, Madeline Szabo, RN, BSN, Senior Vice President of Clinical Operations.

References:

1. World Health Organization https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

2. Centers for Disease Control and Infectionhttps://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/children-faq.html and https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Fcoronavirus%2F2019-ncov%2Fabout%2Fprevention.html

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