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More Than One-Third of Children With SARS-CoV-2 Are Asymptomatic

WEDNESDAY, Dec. 2, 2020 -- More than one-third of children with a positive result for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are asymptomatic, according to a study published online Nov. 24 in CMAJ, the journal of the Canadian Medical Association.

James A. King, from the Alberta Strategy for Patient Oriented Research Support Unit Data Platform in Calgary, Canada, and colleagues conducted an observational study among children tested and followed for SARS-CoV-2 infection between April 13 and Sept. 30, 2020. Positive likelihood ratios were calculated for self-reported symptoms and a positive SARS-CoV-2 swab result.

Results were included for 2,463 children who underwent SARS-CoV-2 testing: 1,987 and 476 had a positive and negative result, respectively. The researchers found that 35.9 percent of the children with a positive result for SARS-CoV-2 were asymptomatic. Among children with SARS-CoV-2 infection, cough and rhinorrhea were two of the most common symptoms (24.5 and 19.3 percent, respectively), but they were also common among those with a negative test and did not predict a positive test. The symptoms most predictive of a positive result for SARS-CoV-2 swab were anosmia/ageusia, nausea/vomiting, headache, and fever (positive likelihood ratios, 7.33, 5.51, 2.49, and 1.68, respectively). For the combination of anosmia/ageusia, nausea/vomiting, and headache, the positive likelihood ratio was 65.92.

"Our study highlights certain symptoms that might be useful in predicting which children have SARS-CoV-2 infections," the authors write. "This information may be useful to those designing screening questionnaires for schools and daycares."

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Posted: December 2020

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