Coronavirus Chronicles — COVID-19 and Kids, More to the Story

We were discussing how medical professionals turn to social media to report their own observations and consult their colleagues about current developments.

Emily Porter, M.D. (@dremilyportermd) tweeted that her five-year-old caught the virus at school in December and transmitted it to the entire family of six. Gastroenterologist Tom Wallach (@md_wallach) noted via Twitter that “90% of my consults this last week on service were for complications of pediatric COVID. ” Conversations with pediatricians all over the country convinced him that his experience was widely shared, and “there’s some interesting and complicated pathology going on here.” He also mentions, not surprisingly, that most of the children he has seen, in or out of a hospital, had not been vaccinated.

In the same thread, a grandmother/retired doctor wrote, “Omicron doesn’t seem at all “mild” for the pediatric crowd.” A civilian wrote that every baby she knows right now has COVID, and she knows “a ton of babies.” Even if not literally true, this speaks for the weight of sorrow and frustration that has come with the realization that yes, children can catch the virus — even infants.

Last week, Tom Perumean wrote for MSN.com that the “insidious” virus is causing serious damage, especially among children who are obese. He quotes Dr. Kyle Happel:

We do have pretty good evidence that COVID-19 virus itself can indeed infect fat cells. So individuals that have more adipose, or more fat tissue, are more likely to have a higher load of the virus in their body… And so, to sum it up, people who are obese are much more likely to experience severe inflammation, organ failure or blood clots.

He went on to speak about the extensive inflammatory response that COVID-19 usually elicits, which looks to be more harmful than the virus itself. The writer also quoted pediatrician Dr. Anthony Hudson:

There is a phenomenon associated with childhood obesity and the rates at which the lungs in the larger airways grow that essentially leads to air trapping in the lungs and again worsening prognosis of COVID-19 infection.

When authorities are deciding which children need to be hospitalized, obesity is a determinant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

An obese child is starting out with a disadvantage, because chances are they already have poor cardiovascular health and/or pre-existing lung dysfunction. Pamela Comme wrote about a report that covered children and teens with COVID-19 in six different hospitals, during July and August of 2021:

Of those who were admitted, 77.9% were hospitalized for acute COVID-19. Approximately two-thirds of those aged 12-17 years had obesity.

If a child has already shown diabetes symptoms, those will probably get worse too. Kids under 18 with COVID have a higher likelihood of receiving a new diabetes diagnosis than those who have not caught the virus.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: Tom Wallach, M.D., Twitter, 01/22/22
Source: “Obesity and COVID, a bad mix,” MSN.com, 01/17/22
Source: “Obesity increases the risk of COVID-19 complications in children, report shows,” KVUE.com, 01/15/22
Source: “Risk for Newly Diagnosed Diabetes…,” CDC.gov, 01/14 /22
Image by Véronique Debord-Lazaro/CC BY-SA 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:

Presentations

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

Food & Health Resources