Gastrointestinal symptoms can be first indicator of COVID-19 illness in kids

In some cases, children with COVID-19 might initially only experience gastrointestinal symptoms, according research published in Frontiers in Pediatrics.

Researchers detailed the clinical characteristics of five patients who were hospitalized with nonrespiratory symptoms and were later confirmed to have COVID-19, between Jan. 23 and Feb. 20 at a children's hospital in China.

Four of the five children had digestive tract symptoms as the first manifestation of COVID-19, said Dr. Wenbin Li, one of the study authors and a pediatrician in China. Gastrointestinal symptoms included acute diarrhea or vomiting and intussusception, a condition involving an obstruction of the intestine.

"Based on our experience of dealing with COVID-19 in regions where this virus is epidemic, children suffering from digestive tract symptoms, especially with fever and/or a history of exposure to this disease, should be suspected of being infected with this virus," Dr. Li said.

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