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Study Explains Why Children Develop Less Severe COVID-19 Infection

Since children encounter pathogens more often, their innate immune system is quicker and stronger.

Published
Coronavirus
2 min read
Study Explains Why Children Develop Less Severe COVID-19 Infection
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A new study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, provides an explanation for why children develop less severe coronavirus infections as compared to adults.

According to a New York Times report, the study suggests that since children encounter pathogens more often, their innate immune system is quicker and stronger.

Over time, the immune system contracts a variety of pathogens and retains a memory of those encounters. By the time the body reaches adulthood, the immune system has developed a more specialised system of fighting pathogens, that is based on the memory of specific previous encounters.

The innate system fades as one grows older and in adults, the immune system is much more muted.

In the time it takes for an adult body to get the specialized adaptive system up and running, the virus has had time to do harm, suggests Dr Betsy Herold, Pediatric Infectious Disease Expert at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

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The study determined that children possessed higher levels of two particular immune molecules, interleukin 17A and interferon gamma, in their bloodstream. It was found that the molecule levels decreased progressively with age.

“We think that is protecting these younger children, particularly from severe respiratory disease, because that’s really the major difference between the adults and the kids.”
Dr Betsy Herold, Pediatric Infectious Disease Expert at Albert Einstein College of Medicine

"The bottom line is, yes, children do respond differently immunologically to this virus, and it seems to be protecting the kids," Dr Herold told the New York Times.

(With inputs from The New York Times)

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