News ID: 266888
Published: 1004 GMT March 14, 2020

Expert: Malnutrition causes severe symptoms in coronavirus-infected children

Expert: Malnutrition causes severe symptoms in coronavirus-infected children

By Sadeq Dehqan & Farzam Vanaki

Malnutrition leads to the occurrence of severe symptoms in children infected with coronavirus, said a senior expert of the Communicable Diseases Center of the Iranian Ministry of Health and Medical Education. 

In December 2019, a pneumonia outbreak was reported in Wuhan, China. On December 31, 2019, the outbreak was traced to a novel strain of coronavirus – a group of viruses that cause diseases in mammals and birds and mild, severe and, at times, lethal respiratory tract infections in humans.

It is wrong to think that children are immune to the virus, as, like adults, they are also capable of catching it, added Hossein Masoumi-Asl, who is also a member of the board of directors of the Iranian Pediatrics Infectious Diseases Society, speaking in an exclusive interview with Iran Daily.

However, he said, an analysis of the infected cases in China shows that, compared to adults, fewer children have caught the disease, adding and they are in the low-risk group.

The elderly, those suffering from underlying disorders – such as diabetes, chronic kidney disease, hypertension and heart diseases – and the individuals undergoing chemotherapy are at a greater risk of death in case of being infected with the virus, Masoumi-Asl stressed.

“This is because these individuals are either on drugs that weaken their immune system or, basically, fail to have a strong immune system.”

According to the latest statistics, so far the outbreak has infected over 139,000 people worldwide, killing more than 5,000. In Iran, the number of the infected has been announced to stand at above 11,300 with more than 500 deaths reported.

Nevertheless, babies suffering from a congenital immunodeficiency disorder or heart defect will also be in the high-risk group, if they catch the virus, Masoumi-Asl said.

In addition, children are capable of transmitting the virus, the Iranian expert warned.

He gave assurance that no case of coronavirus transmission from an infected mother to her fetus has been reported in the northern Iranian province of Qom – the country’s coronavirus epicenter.

So far, a number of babies have been born to infected mothers in Qom Province’s hospitals, none testing positive for the virus, being completely healthy, Masoumi-Asl added.

The virus is less pathogenic in individuals with stronger immune systems, he noted, describing as useful for alleviating the virus’s symptoms anything that helps boosts the immune system, such as vitamins and minerals.

The expert, however, warned against the overuse of supplements.  

On Wednesday, the World Health Organization declared the worldwide coronavirus outbreak a pandemic. The virus has infected people in over 130 countries.

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