HealthDay News — Younger children may be more likely to transmit severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection to other members of their households compared with older children, according to a study published online in JAMA Pediatrics.

Lauren A Paul, from Public Health Ontario in Toronto, and colleagues assessed differences in the odds of household transmission of SARS-CoV-2 infection by younger children compared to older children. The analysis included 6,280 households with pediatric index cases of COVID-19.

The researchers found that 27.3% of households experienced secondary transmission. While the mean age of pediatric index case individuals was 10.7 years (45.6% female), children aged 0 to 3 years had the highest odds of transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to household contacts versus children aged 14 to 17 years (odds ratio, 1.43; 95% confidence interval, 1.17 to 1.75). Even when adjusting for definition of secondary cases (2 to 14 days or 4 to 14 days after the index case), the presence of symptoms, association with a school/childcare outbreak, or school/childcare reopening, the association was similar. Increased odds of transmission were also seen among children aged 4 to 8 years and 9 to 13 years versus children aged 14 to 17 years (aged 4 to 8 years: odds ratio, 1.40 [95% confidence interval, 1.18 to 1.67]; aged 9 to 13 years: odds ratio, 1.13 [95% confidence interval, 0.97 to 1.32]).

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“Differential infectivity of pediatric age groups has implications for infection prevention within households, as well as schools/childcare, to minimize risk of household secondary transmission,” the authors write.

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