Study suggests young children most likely to spread COVID at home to family members

Highest odds of transmission observed for children 0-3 years old

How kids spread COVID at home
How kids spread COVID at home

DETROIT – A major concern about children at school is the risk of them bringing COVID back home to their parents, siblings and other relatives.

A new study from the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed more about how children can spread the virus in a household and who poses the greatest risk.

Read: What are your concerns for the new school year as children head back to classrooms amid COVID pandemic?

The biggest threat of spreading COVID at home might come from the smallest family members.

The new study looked at nearly 6,300 households where a child was the first person to test positive for coronavirus. In 27% of the homes, COVID spread to other family members.

While teens -- ages 14 to 17 -- were most likely to bring the virus home, those ages and younger had the highest risk of infecting others in their family.

Aug. 20, 2021: Michigan coronavirus cases up to 929,574; Death toll now at 20,113

Researchers suspect this is because older children are easier to isolate, while the youngest still need close care.

The study said that while it’s impossible to isolate the youngest children, it’s important for caregivers to use other precautions -- such as wearing masks, increased hand washing and separating the sick child from siblings.

The research was done before the more contagious delta variant was spreading.

There is concern school-age children will play an even greater role in transmitting the virus now with the return to in-person learning and fewer mask mandates in place.

Read: Study looks at reducing risk of COVID spread on school buses

Researchers said getting everyone in the household over the age of 12 vaccinated can greatly help reduce the risk of spread at home.

More than 121,000 new COVID cases in children were reported in the United States last week.

Read: Continuous Michigan COVID coverage


About the Authors:

Jason anchors Local 4's 5:30 p.m. newscast. He joined WDIV in January 2015 as a general assignment reporter and has a Journalism degree from Michigan State University.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.