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Doctor Links Long Term Effects From Omicron

Written by on March 4, 2022

Photo Courtesy of OSF Facebook Page 

NORMAL, Ill. – One of the main concerns for parents is the safety of their children. Parents actively protect their children from bullying, violence, crime, and strangers, but disease and infection is something that’s harder to protect your children from. 

OSF healthcare recently published a study that shows a link between croup cough and COVID-19, with the large spike over the last months from the Omicron variant. Over 4.2 million children have had COVID since January. 

Doctors are noticing a correlation between croup and positive COVID cases because it appears omicron tends to settle higher up in the respiratory tract, rather than in the lungs. While croup isn’t typically serious, it can be alarming for parents especially since their young ones aren’t yet eligible for the COVID vaccine.

“What we think the connection is between omicron and croup is that omicron has been a little different than other COVID strains,” says Dr. Asma Khan, a pediatrician for OSF HealthCare.  “The other COVID strains were hitting our lower respiratory – we were having more lung issues and it hit the lower respiratory tract. Omicron is hitting more of the upper respiratory tract – our nose, our pharynx, our larynx, which is our voice box, so it’s presenting more like a common cold. And with little children, because of the inflammation, it can cause more of this croup-like cough.”

Khan shares the details on the study they conducted.

“There was a study done at Seattle’s Children (Hospital), which looked at patients that came into the ER with croup – they looked at about 500 kids,” says Dr. Khan. “They were simultaneously testing every child that came in with croup-like illness for COVID, and they found that about 100 of these kids were actually COVID positive. When they looked at the percentage they noticed that only about 2 to 3 percent of the croup-like cases that were secondary to COVID occurred with the Delta strain, but 48 percent with the omicron strain.”

According to Dr. Khan, the best thing for children is not to get COVID in the first place. Dr. Khan recommends anyone who is old enough to get vaccinated against the virus.

“I think the vaccine helps with severity, helps prevent spread, and it does prevent complications in the pediatric world,” she says, “so I talk about how important it is for everyone to be vaccinated.”