Covid-19: Children were less sick during first delivery… and that could be a problem

Many parents have noticed that during the first delivery their children were much less ill than usual. Very few colds, even less gastric mucosa – or even lice! – and other fun things that are often brought from school in the school bag.

According to Dr. Paradoxically, Hervé Haas, head of the pediatric department at the CHPG (Princess Grace Hospital) in Monaco, is not such good news.

Before explaining the reasons, he returns to the observation: “At the beginning of the first confinement, we saw a collapse in attendance in children’s hospitals. Travel restrictions and the closure of schools prevented the circulation of a certain number of viruses or bacteria (responsible for gastroenteritis, otitis, bronchiolitis, measles, whooping cough, urinary tract infections), in all countries . All acute infections disappeared during this period”.

But they hadn’t said their last word and reported back with a rebound effect. As an example, Dr. Haas’s bronchiolitis (caused by respiratory syncytial virus – RSV).

“In normal times we experience a big winter peak. However, with the lockdown, it did not happen. On the other hand, in the summer of 2020 we have seen a sharp increase in hospital visits in proportions that we had never known, because of this RSV usually circulates very little this season , and when winter (2020-2021 ed.) came, the peak of bronchiolitis was even greater than in previous years, as if there had been a two-stage catch-up, and the disease was affecting a wider age group – not just babies—as if the kids that got through got them the next year.”

For foot-hand-mouth syndrome, idem: “The peak was higher than in previous years and with some more severe cases.”

With age, the risk of complications increases

Now that we understand the phenomenon, we rightly imagine that the same is true for chickenpox. Bank: “40% fewer cases in 2020 compared to 2019”.

And that would not be good news: “It is to be feared that children who have not had chickenpox due to the delivery, but also barrier gestures, will get it later. However, the disease is experienced worse with increasing age and may be more risky. The same applies to measles. In.” In adulthood, complications can be significant. However, you can prevent the epidemic from breaking out again if you are well vaccinated.. Hence the advice: Check your children’s vaccination records.

And the famous gastroenteritis, so contagious and so feared by parents? All the same! “The very first contacts with rotavirus (at the origin of this disease, editor’s note), when the child is still very young, are important. Here, too, we can fear a renewed outbreak of the epidemic after the pandemic. It still has a peak not given – or because of – the use of hydroalcoholic gel that prevents its spread Once again, if we abandon barrier gestures and regain previous habits, we may fear that some children will have a more severe form of gastroenteritis.

Do you see the sequel coming? There is no reason to be happy that our dear loved ones were less ill because we can count on a boomerang effect.

dr Hervé Haas also points out the problem of pneumococci, even for absent subscribers in the corridors of children’s hospitals during childbirth.

Or, “Pneumococci are part of our pharyngeal microbiota and play a role in stimulating the immune system. Traditionally, it spreads at the same time as a viral infection: we are therefore used to encountering a peak in pneumococcal infections after the flu epidemic.”

“We are concerned that because they have not been exposed and because the strains that arrive are different, the children will have less good immunity. However, we have vaccines available for the most severe forms where they could have been administered. But that’s where it came from there are delays during detention and catching up is essential.”

Being sick can be positive

“If more evidence is needed, just look at what happened recently in England with another bacterium, meningococcus, which is responsible for very severe meningitis. This bacterium has also almost disappeared during confinement in all European countries, but in November 2021 the English observed a peak of type B meningococcal infection in adolescents at levels higher than what was observed before confinement.

Being sick for an otherwise healthy child can also be positive. “If, for example, school children regularly catch colds, it trains their immune systems.”

Finally, there is a risk that the bright side that containment had by signing the end of contamination could become a real problem that will hit us with greater force when all barrier measures are lifted without deliberation.

“It’s in a way an immune debt that will probably have to be repaid at some point, but which, fortunately, can also be reduced thanks to vaccination and certain preventive measures such as the use of hydroalcoholic solutions.”

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