Omicron 'acts differently' in kids with key sign to watch out for, expert warns

OMICRON could "act differently" in kids – with one key sign to watch out for, a children's doctor has warned.

The variant has been proven to be milder than other Covid strains, especially in the vaccinated.

But children are mostly unvaccinated, and Omicron's mutations could be hitting them harder, some experts think.

Dr Andrew Pavia, a paediatric infectious diseases specialist at Primary Children’s Hospital in Utah, said: "There is reason to think that Omicron acts differently in younger children.

"We are seeing the shift towards more disease in younger children; that probably has to do with changes in the virus."

He suggests the variant “attacks the [upper] airways more than the lungs, and younger children have smaller airways".

Most of the kids who have caught the virus and got ill enough to go to hospital, present with a specific cough.

It sounds "croup-like" and as if they are barking, doctors have said. This type of cough is generally not harmful, but is unpleasant for parents to hear and can naturally cause worry.

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Because kids have small nasal passageways, they can easily become blocked.

This is why when youngsters breathe with such inflamed airways, it can easily irritate and spark a cough that sounds like a dog or seal.

So a mild cold in an adult could leave a child struggling more, as they could end up finding it harder to breathe.

As Omicron settles in the upper airway and causes inflammation there, children could have a worse cough and need a bit more help to breathe properly.

Previous strains of the virus would head deeper into the lungs, which was why it would cause a more severe illness.

Symptoms of Omicron in children:

  • Fever
  • Runny nose
  • Croup – a 'barking' cough
  • A more usual sounding cough
  • Rashes 

Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.

Getting jabbed means you then stand less of a chance of passing it on to unprotected vulnerable people.

Dr Pavia said that although Omicron is sending less people to hospital, he is seeing more kids under one coming to wards with breathing problems.

He added that for older kids: "What’s much more common is that somebody comes in with a disease that’s been exacerbated by Covid.”

He explained to the Salt Lake Tribune a child might be admitted for asthma difficulties, but it's "because they have Covid".

If your child comes home with a sniffle, complains of a headache or seems under the weather – it's likely it could be Covid.

It's important to keep an eye out for symptoms in kids that could indicate Omicron, and keep testing to be sure.

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