New study suggests children could play vital role in stopping spread of COVID-19

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association pediatrics found children carry high amounts of viral particles in their noses and mouths.

About 145 children of all ages, showing mild symptoms of COVID-19, participated in the study.

Investigators found that children, especially children under the age of five who are showing symptoms, may carry high amounts of virus particles, possibly more than adults.

Dr. Lara Shekerdemian, chief of critical care at Texas Children's Hospital, reviewed the study and said the finding does not necessarily mean children are more contagious, but gives medical experts more insight on the community spread of COVID-19.

RELATED: School ventilation systems could play role in stopping spread

"This is the way that we know that COVID-19 is transmitted," Shekerdemian said. "We can't say that they are necessarily more contagious than adults. I would speculate that they are at least as contagious as adults."

It's important to note that more research needs to be done regarding how children are impacted by COVID-19 and those who are asymptomatic.

Shekerdemian said if we teach children the safety measure that adults take to prevent the spread of COVID-19, it could help slow the spread.

"Kids can play a role in helping us control it (community spread)," Shekerdemian said. "Which is a message that I don't necessarily think is out there. If children can get it and transmit it, get the children to help us control it."

Dr. Luis Ostrosky, an infectious disease expert with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth and Memorial Hermann-Texas Medical Center, weighed in on the study's findings as well.

"Kids are as susceptible as adults of getting COVID-19, and as likely as adults as transmitting it," Dr. Ostrosky told ABC13.

SEE MORE: Texas Children's Hospital treating several children with inflammatory illness linked to COVID-19

He said other studies and cases here in Houston have shown that while children are more likely to suffer mild or less severe cases of COVID-19, children tend to suffer long-term health effects.

"What we do know that is different from children, is they tend to get less severe symptoms acutely," Ostrosky said. "They tend to get a post COVID-19 syndrome where there are a lot of inflammatory changes in their body that are unique to children."

Similarly seen in adult patients, he said this inflammatory complication causes recovering patients to have fever, inflammation of the joints, skin issues and mouth issues.

"It can be complicated with heart issues, so this is what we really need to watch with children," Ostrosky said.

He said when it comes to schools reopening, studies like this could be helpful research on how to reopen safely.

"Schools have not been shown to really increase dramatically the prevalence in the community, but at the same time, you do have a lot of people coming together and congregating," Ostrosky said. "So, there may be some increases in transmission, but not super spreader events like we have been concerned about."

Follow Roxie Bustamante on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram
Copyright © 2020 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.