Navigation Link
Child & Adolescent Development: Overview
Basic InformationMore InformationLatest News
U.S. Grandparents Are Raising Millions of Kids, and It's ToughMysterious Paralyzing Illness in Kids Is Set to Return, CDC WarnsSchools Can Reopen Safely If Precautions in Place, Australian Study ShowsKids 'Efficient' Transmitters as COVID-19 Raced Through a Georgia Summer CampIn NYC at Least, Routine Child Vaccinations Rebound After LockdownNew Study Sheds Doubt on Notion Kids Aren't COVID-19 SpreadersSpanking on the Decline in American HomesParents: Sharpen up on Your Sunscreen KnowledgeCDC Issues Call to Reopen America's Schools This FallBlack Kids Face Higher Odds of Post-Op Complications Than White KidsLoss of a Twin Linked to Risk for Mental IllnessObesity in Childhood Quickly Harms Heart HealthSleep Problems in Early Childhood Linked to Teens' Mental Health IssuesPot Use in Pregnancy Could Mean Sleepless KidsWith Social Distancing, Schools Should Be Safe to Reopen This Fall, Experts SayThe Long-Term Harm of Missing SchoolHow the Pandemic Is Changing Summer CampHealthier School Meal Programs Helped Poorer Kids Beat Obesity: StudyWith Pandemic-Related Stress, Abuse Against Kids Can SurgeKeep Your Kids Safe in the Water. Here's HowMultiple Surgeries for Cleft Lip, Palate Won't Cause Major Psychological Damage2 in 3 Parents Would Send Kids to School in Fall: SurveySigns of Developing Adult Diabetes Seen as Early as Age 8: StudyVaccine Might Guard Against Bacteria That Cause Diarrhea in KidsShould You Send Your Kid to Summer Camp? Expert Offers AdvicePractice Gun Safety for Your Kids' Sake, Especially During PandemicAsthma More Likely in Kids With Disabilities, DelaysDon't Let COVID-19 Scuttle Your Child's Health ExamsAbout 1 in 15 Parents 'Hesitant' About Child Vaccines: SurveyHome Alone: Will Pandemic's Changes Harm Kids' Mental Health Long-Term?Concussion Can Lead to Vision, Balance Problems in Young KidsAHA News: Finding Balance Between the Good of Youth Sports and Risks of COVID-19Black Children Hit Especially Hard by COVID-19 Inflammatory SyndromeKids Breaking Fewer Bones During Pandemic, But More Fractures Happening at HomeSimilar to Adults, Obesity Raises Kids' Odds for Severe COVID-19Are Food Allergies Under-Diagnosed in Poor Families?Stay-at-Home Orders Could Mean More Obese Kids: StudyWhere Are Kids Getting the Most 'Empty Calories'?AHA News: For Kids, a Pandemic of Stress Could Have Long-Term Consequences6 Expert Tips for Defusing Kids' Quarantine MeltdownsFor Many Kids, Picky Eating Isn't Just a Phase, Study FindsSure-Fire Solutions for Managing Lockdown Temper TantrumsKeeping Kids Slim, Fit During Lockdown Isn't Easy: Here Are Some TipsCOVID-19 Antibodies May Tame Inflammatory Condition in Kids: StudyCould Certain Chemicals Trigger Celiac Disease?Italian Doctors Detail Cases of Inflammatory Condition in Kids With COVID-19AHA News: Is Your Child's Blood Pressure Something to Worry About?Zika Virus Tied to Profound Developmental DelaysCOVID-19 Still Rare in Kids, But Far From Harmless: StudyKids' ER Visits for Mental Health Problems Soared Over 10 Years
LinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

ADHD: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
Childhood Mental Disorders and Illnesses
Child Development & Parenting: Infants (0-2)
Child Development & Parenting: Early (3-7)
Child Development & Parenting: Middle (8-11)
Childhood Special Education
Child Development Theory: Adolescence (12-24)

Are Immune-Compromised Kids at Greater Risk From COVID-19?

HealthDay News
by By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Apr 21st 2020

new article illustration

TUESDAY, April 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- One of the few bright spots in the COVID-19 pandemic has been the perception that children are mostly spared from its worst effects. But what about kids already at risk of contracting serious infections due to a compromised immune system? Do they have the same protection?

"One group we always worry about when it comes to viral illnesses is immunocompromised children," said Dr. Reggie Duerst, director of the stem cell transplant program at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. These kids are typically more at risk of known viral illnesses, such as chickenpox, common cold viruses and flu.

But, he said, because there's so little information available on COVID-19 infections, it's hard to know how much higher the risk might be for children with compromised immune systems.

So far, he said, the incidence of COVID-19 infections in his hospital is very low.

Dr. Basim Asmar, chief of infectious disease at Children's Hospital of Michigan, said it's just not clear yet whether or not children with compromised immune systems are more likely to get COVID-19 infections. It's also unclear if they would have more severe complications if they got an infection.

"We're not really sure right now. We're still learning, and every day we're learning something new. But with other viral infections, immunocompromised children tend to have a more prolonged course," Asmar said.

Dr. Mehreen Arshad, a member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America and an assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University in Chicago, agreed that there's just not a lot of data on children and COVID-19 yet, especially kids with compromised immune systems. She said that immunocompromised children likely have less risk from COVID-19 than older adults do, but they may have more risk than children with healthy immune systems. She added it's important to "take all precautions" to lessen the risk of infection for these children.

Which kids have a compromised immune system?

Duerst said many children who are being treated for cancer and those receiving stem cell transplants or organ transplants tend to have compromised immune systems. There are also inherited immune deficiency conditions. Children who have certain autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, may take medications that dampen their immune system's response.

Other children who might be at a higher risk include those with cystic fibrosis and other lung diseases because their lung capacity is already compromised.

Among children who've received a stem cell transplant, the immune systems of those who get their own cells back (autologous transplant) are close to normal after a year or two, Duerst said. In kids who get stem cells from a donor (allogeneic transplant), "they are on ongoing immune suppression for three to six months, and often longer. If they have a smooth course, by two years they begin to return to normal," he said.

Kids who've had an organ transplant may remain on immune-suppressing drugs for a long time, often for life.

So what steps do parents need to take to keep these youngsters safe?

Arshad said, "I would be a little more stringent for children with compromised immunity. Stay inside as much as possible. Don't have contact with anyone higher risk, like grandparents, or anyone with symptoms. Don't go to stores. Avoid crowds."

She noted that "these families are used to taking precautions already. They may be more aware of the potential dangers."

Asmar agreed that it's important to follow common-sense infection prevention. And, he added, "If someone is ill within the family, even the mother or father, they should try to avoid coming in contact with the child, and should stay in a separate room."

In addition, Asmar said that children with compromised immune systems should be as up-to-date on immunizations as possible.

If your child has a compromised immune system and gets sick, Duerst said to call the physician treating the immune-compromising condition to get instructions. "There are multiple reasons you do not want to enter just any emergency room entrance," he said. But with a number of precautions and screening in place, hospitals are "still a relatively safe place to be," he added.

Arshad said that for more routine visits, kids can often be seen via telehealth. And if there's something a doctor needs to see your child for, the doctor might have your child stay in the car and come out to you.

"While we're not seeing immune-compromised children get an overwhelming number of infections, there's no reason to be complacent," she noted.

More information

Learn more about children and compromised immune systems from Nationwide Children's Hospital.