Penn State College of Medicine tests new way to detect severe cases of COVID-19 in children

Coronavirus

DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — Researchers at Penn State College of Medicine may have found a painless way of finding how sick kids might get if they contract COVID-19.

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The study looks to find certain proteins in a child’s saliva, and if they are found, it can signal a higher likelihood of severe infection.

Test results come back within an hour. Researchers say, while the majority of children with COVID-19 don’t get seriously sick, some are developing severe complications like breathing and heart problems.

“As healthcare providers, it’s really useful when providing anticipatory guidance to families about how to best care for their child,” said Dr. Steven Hicks, a pediatrician at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital. “If we can know at the time of diagnosis whether a child is going to have severe symptoms or mild symptoms, that can drastically change the way we manage a case of COVID.”

The goal? To identify children at risk for severe disease before those serious issues can develop.

Researchers are taking saliva samples from 400 children, ages 18 and younger, for the test.

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