In the first and second waves of the Coronavirus pandemic in India, COVID-19 infection was found in premature infants and new-born babies soon after birth. Experts say that in view of the possibility of a third wave, it is necessary to take many measures to protect children from COVID-19. Dr Rakesh Lodha, Head Professor, Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, who was involved in the team preparing the Covid-19-19 treatment protocol for children, said that though the intensity of virus is low in newborns, however, there is a need to protect them from infections.
In an interview with the News18 network, Dr Lodha spoke about the need for vaccination of pregnant women to save children from COVID-19 and other related issues. Following is the excerpt from the interview.
Question: How is it possible to protect children by vaccinating pregnant women?
Answer: Pregnant women who have had COVID-19 infection are more likely to develop complications related to childbirth than normal pregnant women. Therefore, pregnant women must be vaccinated against COVID-19. The vaccine also protects the new-born child by providing antibodies to pregnant women.
Question: What kind of efforts should be made at the hospital administration level to protect newborns from Covid-19 infection?
Answer: The available data does not support the hypothesis that children will be more affected by future waves of Covid-19. Despite this, we have to be ready to deal with any situation.
According to the protocols, there should be separate wards or isolation wards for infected persons or children. There should be such a system in the Covid-19 ward made for the children that parents can also stay there as caretakers. Arrangements for paediatric care resources or medical equipment used for the care of children should also be made in the hospital. Health workers should be trained to look after Covid-19 positive children of all ages.
Question: How to protect children from post Covid-19 effects?
Answer: Post Covid-19 problem MIS (Multi Inflammatory Syndrome-C) has been seen in children, but this is not a serious problem and can be treated if detected at the right time. While MISC can be controlled through common medications, children with severe conditions can be treated with steroids and immunoglobin drugs.
To protect children from infection, there is a need to adopt the same methods, by which we protect adults from infection.
Question: Has any pre-mature newborn been infected with Covid-19? If so what kind of treatment do these children need?
Answer: Yes, infection of Covid-19 has been seen in newborns. Covid-19 infection has also been seen in premature newborns. The treatment of Covid-19 infection in newborns is done according to the standard protocol.
Question: Does a pregnant Covid-19 positive woman also have an effect on the unborn baby?
Answer: After the pregnant woman becomes Covid-19 positive, the challenges of delivery increase more than the normal pregnant woman. Being Covid-19 positive also increases the chances of having a premature or premature baby or low birth weight baby.
Ten to fifteen percent of Covid-19-infected women gave birth to Covid-19-infected newborns, but all these newborns had mild symptoms and can be treated normally.