Living with children who are attending school does not put adults at higher Covid risk, study suggests

Living in the same household as young children going to school does not put adults at greater risk of getting Covid-19, new research suggests.

Friday, 19th March 2021, 7:00 am
The study used Scotland-wide data of all NHS Scotland healthcare workers and their household contacts between March and October 2020.

A study led by Glasgow University in partnership with Public Health Scotland also found the risk of testing positive with the virus was lower for adults living in a household with a child between the ages of 0 and 11 than it was for those in households without young children.

The study, published today in Archives of Disease in Childhood, used Scotland-wide data of all NHS Scotland healthcare workers and their household contacts between March and October 2020.

It suggested a possible “protective effect” of young children on the rest of a household, researchers said, and had implications for the opening of schools and nurseries while Covid-19 is present in the community.

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon earlier this week said she could not rule out a link between a recent increase in Covid-19 cases in Scotland and the return of younger children to schools in the previous weeks.

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Dr Rachael Wood Clinical lead for Maternal and Child Health at Public Health Scotland and an author on the study, said: "This study adds to existing evidence on the limited role that children play in the transmission of Covid-19.

" More work is needed to explore the idea that living with children might offer adults some protection from infection, but what we can already safely say is that children are not major drivers of Covid-19 transmission.”

She added: “Spending time playing with others their age is essential for children. However, this does sometimes mean that adults from different households will be brought together. When this happens, it is important for parents (as well as teachers and carers) to follow the hygiene and social distancing rules that are in force, to minimise the risk of infection spreading between adults.”

Dr David McAllister of Glasgow University, lead author of the study, said: “This study provides new evidence of a potentially interesting protective effect that young children may have on the rest of their household.”

He added that more research was needed to understand whether young children are protecting others in the household from the virus.

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