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Dr. Doran Discusses Children's Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic

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By:

Laura Tenbus

June 18, 2020
While much has changed about the medical community’s understanding of the coronavirus (COVID-19), one thing has remained relatively constant – children seem to be the least affected by the disease. Timothy Doran, MD, Chairman, Department of Pediatrics at GBMC, participated in WBAL Radio’s Coronavirus Townhall to answer questions about children’s care during the pandemic and give advice to parents as the state reopens.

When asked why children have fared better than adults, Dr. Doran responded, “that’s the million-dollar question, we just don’t know.” Although doctors don’t fully understand the reason, it is clear that children contract the virus at lower rates and experience less severe disease when they do. Researches around the world have found that in most countries, children under age 18 only account for 2-4% of confirmed COVID-19 cases. “You read in the news about the tragedies with children that occur, and it does happen, but it’s rare,” Dr. Doran said.

One of the unfortunate impacts of the pandemic is that both adults and children have delayed their normal care out of fear of the virus. This can be particularly harmful when it comes to children’s immunizations. “That’s a big concern we have,” explained Dr. Doran. “In the last two or three months, we’ve fallen behind on most of the [childhood] vaccines and we need to do some catch-up work, especially around measles.” Measles is a particularly contagious disease that requires 95% of the population to be vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, a percentage that is much higher than most other viruses. Falling behind on vaccinations now can cause outbreaks in the future. It is critical to ensure that children receive the necessary immunizations and GBMC is a safe place to come and do so.

Dr. Doran also recognized that many parents are experiencing burnout from providing constant care for their children. He described a pattern that he sees in many of his patients’ families that he calls “continuous partial attention,” which is when parents are physically with their children, but are on their computers or distracted in some other way. This is exhausting for parents and can hurt their productivity if working from home. Dr. Doran suggested that parents take 30 minutes, twice per day, to give their children complete and uninterrupted attention and let them play for the rest of the time. “Allow them to find imaginative ways to occupy themselves,” he said, “it’s good for their development.”

Parents who are struggling or have concerns about their children should talk with their pediatrician. To learn more about the providers at GBMC, visit www.gbmc.org/mydoctor.

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