WEDNESDAY, March 16, 2022 (HealthDay News) — U.S. infants and children aged 0 to 4 years were hospitalized at a much higher rate during omicron variant predominance than during delta variant predominance, according to research published in the March 15 early-release issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Kristin J. Marks, Ph.D., from the CDC COVID-19 Emergency Response Team, and colleagues describe COVID-19-associated hospitalizations among U.S. infants and children aged 0 to 4 years since March 2020 using data from the Coronavirus Disease 19-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network.

The researchers found that the weekly COVID-19-associated hospitalization rates per 100,000 children aged 0 to 4 years peaked at 14.5 during the period of omicron predominance (Dec. 19, 2021, to Feb. 19, 2022; peak at week ending Jan. 8, 2022). This omicron predominant period peak was about five times that seen during the delta predominant period (June 27 to Dec. 18, 2021; peak at week ending Sept. 11, 2021). Sixty-three percent of the hospitalized infants and children had no underlying medical conditions during the period of omicron predominance; 44 percent of hospitalizations were accounted for by infants aged <6 months, although indicators of severity did not differ by age.

“Future studies are needed to understand the possible long-term consequences of COVID-19 infection among infants,” the authors write. “Although infants aged <6 months are not currently eligible for vaccination, evidence suggests that this age group can receive protection through passive transplacental transfer of maternal antibodies acquired through vaccination.”

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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