The buzz around Covid-19 has dropped exponentially, but the virus is still very much prevalent. The Covid-19 virus variants and its contagious mutations continue to spread, particularly in areas with low rates of community Covid-19 vaccination. Newborns are at risk of being infected. Their bodies, however, are not developed enough to be immunised or to fight back the virus. Pregnant women should take precautions and get themselves vaccinated to prevent infection for both them and the baby as studies show immunity in the children of vaccinated mothers.
In some cases, children of women infected with coronavirus can catch the virus from their mothers. Infants are also prone to be infected with Covid-19 shortly after birth. Most newborns who test positive for coronavirus recover with mild or no symptoms but there could also be serious complications for the child. Symptoms in children of Covid-19 include fever, chills, dyspnea, diarrhoea, and constipation. However, infants with Covid-19 can develop serious illnesses, and parents should be cautious if their babies are diagnosed when they show signs of such an illness.
Ways to keep the baby safe
It is important to take precautions to prevent infection in both infants and children.
Look out for signs and symptoms: Keep a regular check on the baby’s health to look for signs and symptoms of Covid-19 like, fever, diarrhoea, cough, fatigue, vomiting, and difficulty in breathing. If there are any noticeable signs get the baby checked immediately.
Hygiene factors: Make sure to follow all the safety and hygiene guidelines set up for Covid-19 at home. Constantly sanitising all the surface areas even if it’s not accessible to the baby, as children can get infected by the parent or other caretakers.
Mask up: Parents should ensure that they are masked at all times while interacting with the baby. However, it is not advisable for the child to be made to wear masks as it could cause suffocation for the child and lead to breathing difficulties. Ensure that visitors (if any) are also masked while visiting the house.
Social distancing for the baby: Apart from the health visits and necessary outings restrict outdoor visits of the child at least for the first few months. Restrict and limit visitors to the house. Visitors can be the carrier of the virus and avoiding them means avoiding the risk altogether.
Don’t miss out on routine checkups: Routine healthcare is always important. Do not skip the baby’s health appointments. Visit the doctor at regular intervals and follow the methods and tips suggested by the doctor seriously. Get all the checkups and tests done.
Implementing the above-mentioned tips and preventive measures can save parents the stress of dealing with the child’s infection. If the baby develops fever, cough, sore throat, dyspnea, or other Covid-19 symptoms, contact the doctor immediately. If the thought of taking the child out for testing seems scary, schedule a telemedicine appointment with the doctor. Keep the baby and the whole family at home until the test is complete.
(The author is a consultant in neonatology & paediatrics.)