Children with coronavirus may display signs of an upset stomach, a new study has found. Scientists say diarrhoea and vomiting could be the first clue kids have the virus, even if they don’t have a cough.
It’s led to calls for the NHS list of symptoms to be revised. At the moment, the official checklist includes three symptoms: a high temperature, a new and continuous cough, and a loss or change to your sense of smell or taste.
But researchers at Queen’s University in Belfast now say having an upset stomach could be a key symptom of Covid-19 in children.
“In our group, diarrhoea and vomiting were more predictive than, say, cough or even changes in smell and taste,” said Dr Tom Waterfield, as reported by The Guardian. “If you want to actually diagnose infection in children, we need to start looking at diarrhoea and vomiting, not just upper respiratory tract symptoms.”
Waterfield said the current list of officially recognised symptoms only identifies 76% of cases – whereas adding stomach trouble to the list could up the detection rate to 97%.
The study tested more than 990 healthcare workers’ kids from across the UK, aged between two and 15. Results found that 68 children had antibodies and likely had already had Covid-19. Half of these children had reported symptoms, of which 19% suffered from diarrhoea, vomiting and stomach cramps.
“Lots of children will have a running nose this winter [and] sneezing – that is not a sign,” Waterfield added.
The findings add to previous research by King’s College London on nearly 250,000 children from a Covid symptom study app. Those findings suggest that a cough is not as common in children as it is in adults – and gastrointestinal problems are more common in children compared with other symptoms.