COVID: More children going to the hospital with Omicron than the previous waves – but the illness is mild, new data reveals | UK News

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COVID: More children going to the hospital with Omicron than the previous waves - but the illness is mild, new data reveals |  UK News

In the Alpha and Delta waves, 30% of paediatric hospital admissions were babies under one year of age.

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Story Highlights

  • The data, compiled for the government’s SAGE committee, finds that babies under one-year-old make up the majority of admissions among the under-18s.

  • So far in the Omicron wave it’s 42%.

Babies in hospital with COVID

Despite the increase in cases, however, fewer babies are being admitted to intensive care units (ICU) than in previous waves and fewer are needing oxygen.

In the Delta wave, around 20% of under-ones admitted to hospital required supplementary oxygen, compared to 12% for Omicron. There have been no deaths recorded among babies under-one infected with Omicron since the variant began circulating in the UK.

Professor Calum Semple of the University of Liverpool, whose team carried out the analysis, said the data was “reassuring”. “What’s really reassuring here, is these babies are having a very short hospital stay – typically less than two days – and they don’t appear to need intensive care,” he said. “They’re requiring relatively little oxygen, so in fact these babies have the mildest of illness that brings them in to hospital.”

What sort of symptoms are babies experiencing? The main symptoms recorded among babies are a high fever and a runny nose.

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Experts think the shift in hospitalisation patterns may be because Omicron seems to affect the upper airway more than previous strains of COVID. In some cases, they have croup – a barking cough common in infants with an upper respiratory infection – which can lead to breathing difficulties.