Mask wearing post-pandemic? Pediatric hospitalizations down due in part to mitigation
PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. (CBS12) — New studies are emerging showing public health measures implemented due to the pandemic may be spurring the notable decrease in pediatric hospitalizations linked to respiratory illnesses.
“Three of my kids are autistic, three have ADHD, and one is a newborn,” Amanda Seigler said.
Seigler’s family is big and uniquely special.
“We are all what they call neurodiverse,” she said. “I myself am autistic.”
The mother of seven, who’s also an essential worker, had to take COVID-19 mitigation measures very seriously to keep her family safe.
“Two of my children have asthma. My 10-year-old has Type 1 diabetes,” Seigler told CBS12 News.
She believes those precautions may the reason her family has taken fewer trips to the doctor.
“Did your kids get sick from the flu this past season?” CBS12 News reporter Stefany Valderrama asked.
“No, nobody got a cold, the flu, or anything,” Seigler said.
Seigler’s family is not an anomaly.
Hospitalizations among kids for illnesses, like asthma, the flu or pneumonia, are down 62 percent. The largest decrease occurring early on in the pandemic, from March 12 to April 9, 2020, and remaining low through September, according to the study published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine and lead by Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
In fact, according to the CDC, one child has died from the flu this season. That number is usually between 100 and 200 kids.
“When you see them wearing a mask and them not getting sick, you wonder if there’s a link to that,” Seigler said. “Logically, it does make sense.”
Dr. Tiffany McCalla believes new social norms, like staying home when you are sick, and renewed awareness of the basics are spurring the trend.
“I think it’s multiple things,” she said. “One is we are all hyper-aware, this sounds kind of disgusting, but if you look at the studies from maybe three years, four years ago, people didn’t wash their hands when they came out of the bathroom.”
Public health measures are still one of the biggest factors, according to the study.
This begs the question, should kids wear masks and social distance long past the pandemic?
“It’s not quite that simple. I think physically it would be really good for them, but for their mental health, I would say, if children can handle it and do well with it, I would say yes,” Seigler told CBS12 News.