HOUSTON — In one of the first reported cases of its kind, a 3-week-old Houston-area infant in critical condition has recovered from COVID-19.
The infant, born four weeks early, was taken to a Houston hospital with rapid breathing, high pulse rate and nasal congestion.
The baby was transferred to a pediatric intensive care unit where doctors discovered low blood pressure and hypothermia. When they saw X-rays of the lungs, they immediately suspected the coronavirus. They were right.
“We thought the child was sicker than the normal child we see. On top of what appeared to be COVID-19, the child also tested positive for the virus that causes the common cold,” said Dr. Alvaro Coronado Munoz, assistant professor of pediatric critical care medicine at McGovern Medical School at UTHealth.
The infant, now in severe respiratory failure, was transferred to a negative-pressure room in the PICU, intubated and placed on a mechanical ventilator for five days.
Physicians also treated the infant with a five-day course of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin.
Tests confirmed the baby had COVID-19.
After five days in the PICU and another four days at the hospital, the baby had recovered enough to be sent home without supplemental oxygen.
“We are still so early in the research and data available on COVID-19, and as providers, we need to be aware that children can get critically ill from this virus,” Dr. Coronado said. “It’s important for parents to understand that they should not delay seeking care for their children if there’s any presence of fever or trouble breathing.”
Doctors believe the baby was infected after contact with a 49-year-old woman in the same household who had symptoms but was never tested for the coronavirus.
The baby’s 21-year-old mother tested positive for group B strep when she was pregnant but not COVID-19. Group B strep is normally harmless bacteria that come and go, but it can cause severe infection in newborns, according to the CDC.
As more data is released on COVID-19, the original belief that pediatric patients are spared from the worst of the disease has been disproven.
“While this case is limited to one single patient, it illustrates that severe COVID-19 cases in children can occur, but also be successfully managed,” Dr. Coronado said.