With respiratory viruses high, experts evaluate the use of masks by children

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The rise in Covid-19 cases and the increase in pediatric hospitalizations for respiratory viruses motivate experts to recommend the return of mask use in schools, even in young children.

The use of face protection was not mandatory at any time for children under 2 years of age due to the risk of breathing difficulties and of asphyxia. For the older ones, the use is indicated, mainly, in closed environments.

The main cause of the increase in hospitalizations are respiratory viruses, such as respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and influenza (the cause of the flu), common at this time, in addition to the new coronavirus. The difference this year, doctors say, is that a high number of babies and children had contact with these viruses at the same time, after two years of pandemic in which they were isolated at home.

“The World Health Organization (WHO) guides the use of masks from the age of 7 in relation to the new coronavirus. However, in Brazil we have had good experiences with children even between 2 and 3 years old. Keeping the mask pretty tight, no problems. Inside classrooms, as far as possible, it is good for children to wear masks”, says Fausto Flor Carvalho, president of the School Health Department of the São Paulo Society of Pediatrics.

Comfort

For children, the best mask is the one they feel most comfortable with.

“Protective equipment must be well adjusted to the face, covering the mouth and nose, so that air does not escape through the sides. In general, children’s surgical masks with a triple layer are the most indicated. Fabric masks can be used, but they are not very effective. N95 masks are not recommended, as they make children uncomfortable”, guides Renato Kfouri, pediatrician, infectious disease specialist and president of the Immunization Department of the Brazilian Society of Pediatrics (SBP).

Pediatrician and neonatologist Maria Cecília Correia Hyppolito agrees with the guidance. “The use of a mask protects not only against the new coronavirus, but is valid for all respiratory infections, such as influenza”, highlights the specialist.

For Raquel Stucchi, an infectious disease specialist at the State University of Campinas (Unicamp), the accessory should be required until the end of the coldest season. “The use of masks should be mandatory in closed environments without natural ventilation until, at least, the end of winter”, argues she, who is a consultant for the Brazilian Society of Infectious Diseases (SBI).

Changing masks

The recommendation is that the mask is changed every three hours or earlier , if necessary. On the other hand, experts are also concerned about the requirement for masks in classrooms, while other environments continue with free movement.

Throughout the pandemic, managers were criticized for prioritizing the opening of bars and gyms to the detriment of schools – Brazil was one of the countries that kept schools closed the longest.

Among the concerns of scientists are the cognitive and mental health consequences of growing up and socializing with children, always with protection on their face, which changes the form of contact with others.

The information is from the newspaper. The State of São Paulo .

Basic care helps prevent respiratory diseases

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Source: CNN Brasil

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