Zhongguo Dang Dai Er Ke Za Zhi

. 2020 Aug;22(8):844-853.

[Clinical features of coronavirus disease 2019 in children: a systemic review of severe acute respiratory syndrome, Middle East respiratory syndrome, and coronavirus disease 2019]

[Article in Chinese]

Yang He 1 , Jun Tang, Meng Zhang, Hao-Ran Wang, Wen-Xing Li, Tao Xiong, You-Ping Li, De-Zhi Mu

  • PMID: 32800031


Objective: To systematically summarize the clinical features of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in children.
Methods: PubMed, Embase, Web of Science, The Cochrane Library, CNKI, Weipu Database, and Wanfang Database were searched for clinical studies on COVID-19 in children published up to May 21, 2020. Two reviewers independently screened the articles, extracted data, and assessed the risk of bias of the studies included. A descriptive analysis was then performed for the studies. Related indices between children with COVID-19 and severe acute respiratory syndromes (SARS) or Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) were compared.
Results: A total of 75 studies were included, with a total of 806 children with COVID-19. The research results showed that the age of the children ranged from 36 hours after birth to 18 years, with a male-female ratio of 1.21 : 1. Similar to SARS and MERS, COVID-19 often occurred with familial aggregation, and such cases accounted for 74.6% (601/806). The children with COVID-19, SARS, and MERS had similar clinical symptoms, mainly fever and cough. Some children had gastrointestinal symptoms. The children with asymptomatic infection accounted for 17.9% (144/806) of COVID-19 cases, 2.5% (2/81) of SARS cases, and 57.1% (12/21) of MERS cases. The children with COVID-19 and MERS mainly had bilateral lesions on chest imaging examination, with a positive rate of lesions of 63.4% (421/664) and 26.3% (5/19) respectively, which were lower than the corresponding positive rates of viral nucleic acid detection, which were 99.8% and 100% respectively. The chest radiological examination of the children with SARS mainly showed unilateral lesion, with a positive rate of imaging of 88.9% (72/81), which was higher than the corresponding positive rate of viral nucleic acid detection (29.2%). Viral nucleic acid was detected in the feces of children with COVID-19 or SARS, with positive rates of 60.2% (56/93) and 71.4% (5/7) respectively. The children with COVID-19 had a rate of severe disease of 4.6% (31/686) and a mortality rate of 0.1% (1/806), the children with SARS had a rate of severe disease of 1.5% (1/68) and a mortality rate of 0%, and those with MERS had a rate of severe disease of 14.3% (3/21) and a mortality rate of 9.5% (2/21).
Conclusions: Children with COVID-19 have similar symptoms to those with SARS or MERS, mainly fever and cough. Asymptomatic infection is observed in all three diseases. Children with COVID-19 or SARS have milder disease conditions than those with MERS. COVID-19 in children often occurs with familial aggregation. Epidemiological contact history, imaging examination findings, and viral nucleic acid testing results are important bases for the diagnosis of COVID-19.