At CHOP, we share your concern in keeping your children and family safe throughout the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. To date, there is no evidence to suggest that a diagnosis of spina bifida alone puts an individual at higher risk for contracting COVID-19 or developing severe illness. Similarly, a VP shunt does not increase the risk for severe disease from COVID-19.

In general, children have been less affected by COVID-19, with milder symptoms and better prognosis. Conditions that might increase the risk for severe disease from COVID-19 in children include:

  • Obesity
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Asthma or chronic lung disease
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Severe genetic/metabolic disorders
  • Immunosuppression

Vaccine trials on pediatric patients are just beginning. In the meantime, the following are steps you can take to reduce your and your child’s risk of contracting COVID-19:

  • Limit non-essential activities away from the home
  • Follow the guidelines for physical distancing recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
  • Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol frequently throughout the day
  • Don’t touch your face
  • Avoid crowded places and avoid touching frequently contacted surfaces such as elevator buttons and door handles
  • Wear a mask over your nose and mouth at all times when outside of your house
  • Stay on a schedule of medications and catheterizations (if prescribed), and regular skin checks to prevent the need for emergency office visits

Research is showing that children and caregivers are experiencing declines in mental health during the pandemic. Social isolation, economic stress, altered routines and fear of the unknown have resulted in significant psychologic stress. Now more than ever it is important to connect and engage with your child or adolescent, set routines and include screen-free time, encourage exercise and outdoor time, ensure adequate sleep, and encourage socially distanced or virtual socialization with peers.

Please reach out to our Spina Bifida Clinic or your pediatrician if you are in need of mental health or economic resources.

CHOP also has a collection of resources and information to help parents and caregivers navigate the ongoing COVID-10 pandemic.

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