BOSTON (CBS) – The number of children in hospitals with COVID-19 in Massachusetts has risen in recent weeks. But one Boston doctor said there is more to the data than it appears.

Data shows a steady rise in pediatric hospitalizations since the beginning of December. As of last week, there are 48 children hospitalized who have COVID.

Last week, there were 28 children with COVID at Boston Children’s Hospital, and 10 in the ICU.

At the beginning of December there were 18 pediatric patients in the state, and as of two weeks ago the number was 30.

(WBZ-TV Graphic)

An infectious disease specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital told WBZ-TV’s Dr. Mallika Marshall the virus is being detected incidentally in children who go to the hospital for other health issues.

“As part of the admission process when they get screened in order to be hospitalized we find out that they are PCR positive for the virus, in which case, of course, the child gets reported as a child being admitted with COVID-19,” Dr. Richard Malley said. “But, in fact, a more accurate description, would be to say that the child was admitted with a positive SARS-COV-2 test, but is in fact admitted for another reason.”

Malley said so far he is not seeing more severe illness in children compared to adults, and that is consistent to reports from the United Kingdom and South Africa.

CBSBoston.com Staff