COVID-19 and Children with Asthma

Children are not at increased risk for getting COVID-19, and most children have a mild illness if they are infected. Moreover, population studies of severe COVID-19 infections have not shown that people with asthma are in the higher risk groups.  However, there is still a lot we do not know about COVID-19.  At this time, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) indicates that children with moderate to severe asthma might be at higher risk for more serious infection.  It is important to realize that people with no symptoms, including children, can still spread COVID-19 to others.  Therefore, it is important to continue to practice behaviors which reduce the spread of COVID-19 and help prevent infection.

Prevention of COVID-19

There are 5 important things you and your child can do to help prevent infection with COVID-19:

  • Wear a face mask in public as recommended by the CDC based on local COVID-19 community levels. It is okay if you choose to have your child with asthma to wear masks to school.
  • Practice good hand hygiene
  • Observe social distancing
  • Take your asthma medicines as prescribed
  • Follow your Asthma Action Plan

Call your asthma doctor if your child develops respiratory symptoms.

Face Masks and Children with Asthma

  • Wearing face masks has been shown to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  Face masks are recommended by the CDC based on local COVID-19 community levels for children older than 2, even those with asthma.
  • There are benefits to wearing a face mask for children with asthma.
    • First, children with asthma are more likely to have symptoms that cause the production of droplets and may spread an infection. Wearing a face covering can help prevent this. 
    • Face coverings may reduce exposure to pollens and pollutants that make their symptoms worse.
    • Face coverings can also help reduce the risk of catching other viruses that can trigger asthma.
  • Your family should choose the mask which is most comfortable for the child. Non-cloth masks may offer more protection against transmission of the virus. It is safe for children with asthma to wear masks for extended periods of time, such as during the school day.

Common Concerns about Wearing Face Masks

  • Some people have been concerned about potentially harmful side-effects from wearing masks for long periods of time: retaining carbon dioxide or inability to get enough oxygen. But it's highly unlikely you'll suffer either of these wearing a cloth or gauze face mask. When you breathe out, the carbon dioxide will go through and around the mask and oxygen comes in. Surgeons wear face coverings all day without harm.
  • Some have asked why social distancing is necessary if masks work. The easy answer is that neither method gives the population full protection but having both can help limit the spread of the virus.
  • Another concern that has been raised is whether wearing a mask triggers infections already in the body or weakens your immune system. There is no evidence to support either of these claims.
  • Many parents are concerned that it will be harder for their child to breathe through a mask. Breathing through a face covering doesn’t require any more effort than it does to use asthma inhalers.

Finding the Correct Fit for Face Masks

  • Read Tips to Help Kids Wear Face Masks, from the Cincinnati Children's blog.
  • Here are some guidelines for proper fit and wear. The mask should:
    • Cover both the nose and mouth
    • Be snug (so that there are no gaps) but comfortable
    • Extend from ear to ear
    • Be held by the strings when putting on and taking off
    • Be washed daily (if made of cloth), if possible (having more than one may help)
    • Not to be worn when eating or drinking
    • Not to be touched when on their faces
  • Kids should wash their hands before putting the mask on, as well as after they take it off. Additionally, if they touch it while wearing it, they should wash their hands then, too.