BOSTON (CBS) – A new Mass General Hospital study is adding to concerns that children may be considered “silent spreaders” of coronavirus.
The study published Thursday in the Journal of Pediatrics looked at 192 kids up to age 22 who were either experiencing symptoms, had been in contact with an infected person, or lived in a high-risk area.
Of the children, 49 were infected and 18 met criteria for multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children. Of the children who were infected, only 25 had a fever, and symptoms of coronavirus were “non-specific.”
All had high amounts of the virus in their noses.
The authors conclude the study shows children “may be a potential source of contagion … in spite of milder disease or lack of symptoms.”
The senior author says if kids carry the virus in high numbers, they can easily spread it around.
“The manner in which children contribute to the spread of SARS-CoV-2 is unclear,” the study concluded. “Children are less likely to become seriously ill from SARS-CoV-2(2); however, asymptomatic carriers, including children, can spread infection and carry virus into their household.”
Other experts have said this does not prove that children are more likely to spread the virus.
“I think it is a little bit of a leap to say that because these children have a large amount of viral RNA in their nasal secretions that they infect other people,” said Dr. Brian Chow of Tufts Medical Center.
Chow suggests a different study focusing on the people an infected child is in contact with to see how many of them get sick, could be a better indicator of how well kids can spread the virus.