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Why doctors say omicron variant is a cause for concern for kids

Children are now being hospitalized for COVID at record rates.

HOUSTON — Why do doctors say even the milder omicron variant is a cause for concern for kids?

While early research is showing that omicron is not as severe, that may just be for adults. Children are now being hospitalized at record rates. Some of those cases are being caught in kids showing up at the hospital for other things, but experts say parents should still take this wave seriously.

The problem is most serious for children 5 and under. Right now there is no vaccine available for kids that young. A pediatric infection preventionist told CBS that the age group also has more narrow airways. And since omicron seems to target the upper respiratory tract, it causes those narrow airways to swell. That is resulting in kids with a harsh, barking cough known as croup. 

There is also a rise in children with a respiratory tract infection called bronchiolitis.

So what should parents look out for? Doctors say troubled breathing, especially if the child sounds like they are struggling to get air is a sign to seek immediate medical attention.

Croup is usually treated with a few days of steroids but can go away on its own. Children with bronchiolitis may need oxygen and breathing treatments but usually fully recover.

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