Health

Doctor shares what to know about your child’s antibodies after contracting COVID

Mom helping to put masks on her baby

As the Omicron variant races through homes, daycares and schools at alarming rates, parents are trying to see a brighter side in their young children who get COVID — that is, their children now have antibodies and are likely to be safe from getting it again.

But, how do antibodies work in children, and how long can this newly discovered immunity last?

“That’s a great question,” Bayou Carey-Winchell, MD, regional clinical director at Carbon Health and a family medicine physician in Nevada, told PopSugar. Unfortunately, it comes with a complicated answer.

What to know about COVID-19 antibodies in children

Dr. Carrie-Winchell explained that when you contract COVID or any virus, your immune system makes antibodies specifically to fight it. And once you have antibodies to a particular disease, they offer some protection from it.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of infection again is low for at least six months after infection with the virus that causes COVID-19. However, a recent study of antibodies in children revealed a stark contrast to adults.

Children may get rid of this virus more efficiently than adults and therefore do not need a strong immune response to antibodies to get rid of it. Although this is certainly good news for the risks associated with cases of COVID in children, it also showed that children thus produce fewer antibodies against the virus’s spike protein, which the virus uses to infect human cells.

She said the common belief that a child who has contracted COVID is “safe” from getting it again is a fallacy: “Often, even now, people don’t understand that you can get it again.”

What you need to know about the immune system against corona virus infection in children

However, even a smaller amount of antibodies can provide some protection, but to what extent?

“We’re not sure how long this immunity will last, so that’s the worrying part,” said Carrie Winchell. “Yes, you have some level of immunity, but has it been two weeks? Has it been months? Has it been years? It’s hard to tell.”

In addition to the dress? The fact that many variants keep appearing.

“There are different variables emerging,” said Carrie Winchel, noting that antibodies from the original coronavirus are not necessarily adept at fending off infection from one of these new variants. “And there’s no way of knowing which alternative they have. Maybe they had Delta first. There’s no guarantee they’ll still be able to get Omicron.”

Even more worrying, previous infections from the emerging coronavirus have prompted some parents to opt out of vaccinating their children.

“I would encourage eligible children — that’s all kids 5 and older — to keep getting the vaccine even if they have it because that would provide that extra layer of protection, but we see that parents are choosing not to participate,” Carey-Winchell said. “They say, ‘No, I’m fine’, or ‘My baby got it, so they don’t need it.'”

She added, “They ask why they still need to have it. I tell them if you have the opportunity to keep your child healthy for longer, or with fewer symptoms, that is something to consider strongly. It increases your chance of getting milder symptoms. I think it is.” If my child can be sick for two days versus 10 days, that’s huge for quality of life, for getting back to school sooner, for all those factors.”

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