New data changes way scientists view coronavirus risk for younger people

Researchers say infants, toddlers at risk of complications

DETROIT – If there was any reassuring news during the coronavirus outbreak, it was the initial belief that younger people and children were less affected by the virus. But new data is changing some of the advice surrounding that belief.

To be clear, the greatest risk is still for people older than 60 and those with serious underlying health problems.

But the new research on cases in the United States found some younger people are becoming very seriously ill.

Researchers with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at more than 2,400 cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and found up to one-fifth of the patients who had to be hospitalized were between the ages of 20 and 44.

Between 2% and 4% had to be admitted to the intensive care unit, but the fatality rate among that age group is still low.

Italy and France have also reported many young people in ICUs with the coronavirus. Almost one-quarter of Italy’s coronavirus patients are between the ages of 19 and 50.

On Thursday, health officials called on Americans of all ages to heed the warnings to stay home and limit contact with others.

“The absolute key to this, though, is every single American looking at the present guidelines and taking it seriously,” one federal official said.

Emerging evidence raises concern that babies and toddlers might also be at risk of serious complications.

A study of more than 2,000 children in China found 11% of cases in infants and 7% of cases in toddlers and preschoolers were severe, or even critical.

We don’t know how many of the younger people being seriously affected also have underlying health problems, which would increase their risk. A study out of Italy found 99% of the deaths were in people with existing medical problems.

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