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Children's Wisconsin Herma Heart Institute medically complex kids

COVID-19 and medically complex children


On June 25, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated their COVID-19 guidelines to address children with complex medical issues. They added the following language: “Children who are medically complex, who have neurologic, genetic, metabolic conditions, or who have congenital heart disease are at a higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 than other children.”

At Children’s Wisconsin, we work closely with children who are medically complex every single day — it’s what we do. And we know their families are vigilant when it comes to keeping their kids safe and staying up-to-date on the latest medical recommendations. So when this CDC update was made public, a lot of those families reached out to us with concern. They understandably wanted to know: What changed?

It’s important to note that, fortunately, the incidence of COVID-19 in children remains low. While kids with complex medical conditions do make up a relatively high percentage of all pediatric cases, the overall number of cases worldwide is so small that no clear conclusions can be drawn. In other words, the lack of data is a good thing, because it means there are very few cases of COVID-19 in children. Most importantly, we have not seen more severe symptoms for our medically complex children.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, we have been staying informed on all the latest developments, studies and findings about the virus and how it effects kids. At this time, there is no new data suggesting kids living with a complex medical condition are at an increased risk for serious COVID-19-related illness. 

That said, the CDC’s recommendation is an important reminder that much is still not known about this disease and maintaining an abundance of caution is the best course of action. 

Our guidance to all families remains the same:

  • Shelter at home as much as possible

  • If you have to go out with your child, make sure to maintain proper social distancing of at least 6 feet from others

  • When social distancing is not possible, any adult and child over the age of 2 should wear a mask

  • Wash hands thoroughly and often with soap and hot water for at least 20 seconds

  • When soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol

  • Encourage all caregivers to limit contact to others as much as possible, including home nurses

  • Screen any outside caregivers for fevers and make sure they are following the above precautions as well

We will continue to monitor CDC recommendations and share all relevant updates on the Children’s Wisconsin COVID-19 website. If you have any questions or concerns about your child’s medical care, please contact their doctor.