Gastrointestinal symptoms, fever, exposure could indicate COVID-19 in children

Gustavo Fring/Pexels

Children suffering from sickness and diarrhea, coupled with a fever or history of exposure to novel coronavirus (COVID-19), should be suspected of being infected with COVID-19, according to a new study published in the journal Frontiers in Pediatrics.

The research also suggests that the gastrointestinal symptoms first suffered by some children hints at potential infection through the digestive tract, as the type of receptors in cells in the lungs targeted by the virus can also be found in the intestines, said Wenbin Li, MD, PhD, lead author of the study from the Department of Pediatrics at the Tongji Hospital in Wuhan, China.

n this study, Li and his colleagues detail the clinical features of children admitted to hospital with non-respiratory symptoms, which were subsequently diagnosed with pneumonia and COVID-19. By highlighting these cases, Li hopes that doctors will use this information to quickly diagnose and isolate patients with similar symptoms, which will aid early treatment and reduce transmission.

The researchers also link the children's gastrointestinal symptoms, which have been recorded in adult patients, to an additional potential route of infection.

While COVID-19 tests can occasionally produce false positive readings, Li is certain all these five children were infected with the disease, but he cautions that more research is needed to confirm their findings.

"We report five cases of COVID-19 in children showing non-respiratory symptoms as the first manifestation after admission to hospital,” said Li in a statement. “The incidence and clinical features of similar cases needs further study in more patients."

Editor’s note: Click here for more information and ongoing COVID-19 updates for integrative healthcare professionals.