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Omicron variant causes unique complications in children, say pediatricians – NBC Chicago

Pediatricians see a unique trend in children infected with the Omicron variant of COVID-19 and say that may be behind a recent surge in hospital visits as young children experience complications from the variant.

Dr. Latania Logan, director of the pediatric infectious disease division at RUSH University Medical Center, says narrow airways in children under 5 make it easier for germs to sit where the Omicron variant replicates.

This can lead to other infections like bronchiolitis and other respiratory problems.

“You come with that seal-like barking cough that’s associated with upper respiratory inflammation,” said Dr. Logan. “The airways can be a little ‘flabby’ than an adult’s airway, or they may have a slightly less ability to clear the secretions that an adult can cough up.”

Logan says she sees mild to moderate cases in toddlers and infants. Most hospital stays averaged only about two days or less because of steroid therapy.

“We’re used to seeing this upper respiratory disease in children and we know we need to help them do it,” she said. “We know that we can generally do this over a shorter period of time by giving them some steroids.”

Dr. Alin Abraham of Northwestern Medicine says children who become infected with the Omicron variant develop other conditions like dehydration and other complications from mucus build-up.

“When this mucus build-up starts to build up, as it sinks a little deeper, and it’s harder for them to clear their airways, it absolutely affects their breathing and their ability to stay hydrated,” the doctor said.

The problem is only exacerbated in this age group by the fact that children under the age of five remain unvaccinated.

Still, the Omicron variant appears to cause milder infection compared to earlier variants like the Delta variant, but researchers are still studying these factors.

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