If your little one has a new and continuous cough or a high temperature, you might be wondering if you need to take them for a Covid test.
But can babies get tested for Covid?
In this article: 📝
- What are the symptoms of Covid in babies?
- What sort of Covid tests are used for babies?
- What’s the risk of a newborn being infected if the mother has Covid?
The short answer is yes, they can — and if they’re displaying one or more of the main symptoms of Covid, you should trust your instinct, contact your pediatrician, and follow their instructions regarding testing and isolation.
What are the symptoms of Covid in babies?
According to the CDC, the main Covid symptoms for babies include:
- A fever or high temperature
- A new and continuous cough (essentially a cough that has lasted for more than an hour, with three or more coughing episodes inside 24 hours)
They may also display other symptoms, such as:
- Runny nose
- Shallow breathing
If your baby has the above symptoms (particularly the first two), a healthcare professional will probably recommend they’re tested for Covid.
Are children less likely to get Covid-19?
According to The Mayo Clinic, children in the US represent around 16% of all Covid cases.
Some researchers believe that children experience milder symptoms of Covid-19 because their immune system is geared up to fight off common colds and coughs. However, some studies have noted a rise in the number of cases of Covid-19 in children due to the delta variant.
Statistically, fewer children get Covid-19, but this may be because younger age groups display mild or no symptoms and aren’t tested as much as adults.
Still, if you think your baby has Covid, forget the statistics and go with your gut. Contact your pediatrician as soon as you can and find out what happens next.
What sort of Covid tests are used for babies?
Kids’ Covid testing is pretty much the same as adults’ (although we’ll admit, kids are a lot less likely to sit still).
If your child is showing symptoms, a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test will be used to determine if they have an active Covid infection. Approved by the FDA, PCR tests are the gold standard of tests and can also detect other variants of Covid, including the delta variant and the omicron variant.
How does the test work?
If your child is a little older, you might want to take a minute to explain where you’re going, and why the doctors will be masked and gowned – if it’s your child’s first test, it might be a little intimidating.
When carrying out a PCR test, your pediatrician will use a long cotton bud to take a swab from the back of your child’s throat and the inside of their nose.
Although it shouldn’t hurt, it can make your little one uncomfortable. They might gag when the swab is in their mouth, or their eyes might water when it’s up their nose. Try to avoid feeding them right before the test if you can (since this decreases its accuracy), and do your best to distract them and keep them still while the doctor is swabbing
The test might be unpleasant, but it should be over within a minute (after which you both deserve a treat).
Depending on where you live, you’ll have the results within 48-72 hours.
What’s the risk of a newborn being infected if the mother has Covid?
It’s believed that babies can contract Covid from exposure to the virus during childbirth or contact with infected caregivers. However, according to John Hopkins medicine, direct transmission of Covid from mother to baby is very rare.
And the reassuring news is that studies carried out by Imperial College, London, have found Covid-19 cases in babies are incredibly rare.
Still, if you’ve tested positive for Covid, make sure you:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds before touching your newborn.
- Wear a mask if you’re within six feet of your newborn during your isolation period.
Read more: Can Babies Get Covid-19?
Can you still breastfeed with Covid?
Yes, you can — transmission is not linked to breastfeeding.
However, you could still pass on the virus via sneezing, coughing, and breathing, so it’s a good idea to wear a mask while breastfeeding. The World Health Organisation also recommends maintaining breastfeeding, as skin-to-skin contact can be vital for the wellbeing of both babies and mamas.
Juggling mamahood against the backdrop of a pandemic can be exhausting. Join a community on Peanut to talk about Covid — or to take your mind off it.
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