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Valley pediatrician explains why children may not be spreading COVID-19 as much as adults

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Posted at 9:42 PM, Aug 06, 2020

A Valley pediatrician said anatomy and lack of symptoms could be reasons why young children are not spreading COVID-19 as much as adults.

Dr. Gary Kirkilas D.O., a pediatrician at Phoenix Children's hospital, said about 80 percent of children who become infected with COVID-19 never show symptoms. He says it’s that reality that could mean less chance of spreading the virus by traditional means.

“We know cough is a very effective means of spreading the virus so if they’re not coughing it’s kind of logical to think they’re not going to be super spreaders," said Dr. Kirkilas.

He added that anatomy may be a factor in the spread of the virus between younger and older children.

"The biggest difference is just their respiratory tracts," said Dr. Kirkilas, a doctor of osteopathic medicine and a clinical assistant professor in Child Health at the University of Arizona College of Medicine in Phoenix. "Little kids, smaller frames, they’re not expelling air as well, their coughs are weaker. So that could be one possible explanation."

According to the Arizona Department of Health Services, 12 percent of known COVID-19 Cases in Arizona are of people 20 years old or under (22,180 cases).

A study released by the CDC surveyed nearly 60,000 people and suggested that children ages 0-9 spread COVID-19 less than adults, and that children ages 10-19 could potentially spread the virus just as much as adults.

Dr. Kirkilas said research on COVID-19 and children is still in its infancy, and more research needs to be done.

As it pertains to education and students returning to school, Dr. Kirkilas said schools should limit the number of students in a classroom.

"I would also like to see schools, and this is a big burden on schools, is to sort of change the way the classroom would work," he said. "We know that something called co-horting works very well to mitigate viral transmission."

Co-horting means keeping a group of individuals in one location, and Dr. Kirkilas said schools should limit the number of classroom changes students make.