1 in 3 Indian parents surveyed say their children have fallen sick with flu/respiratory symptoms 4 times or more in the last 12 months; Been going to school as well with symptoms
- ● 86% parents of school going children report they falling sick once or more in the last 12 months
- ● Feedback from parents indicates that the children repeatedly falling sick phenomenon has started post the 3rd COVID wave i.e. early 2022
October 6, 2023, New Delhi: Several types of influenza continue to sweep across the country affecting school going children in particular. Though children falling sick a couple of times during the year due to change of weather happens year, the frequency of these sicknesses appear to be rising since early 2022 i.e. post the 3rd COVID wave, according to many parents.
While Children may have largely avoided severe COVID symptoms owing to their strong 'innate' immune reaction that quickly defeats the virus, but as their immune system does not remember the virus and does not adapt to it, the risk of reinfection is much higher as compared to adults, a new study has revealed. The study by researchers at Garvan Institute of Medical Research, Australia, was published early this year in the journal Clinical Immunology.
Parents of school going children are increasingly seeing that children are falling sick many more times since early 2022 when compared to the pre-COVID times. With schools fully functional and operating in physical mode, the dilemma parents of such kids are facing is whether they should send a child with cough, cold or even mild fever to school or should they stay skip school till they are completely fit. During the COVID period i.e. mid 2021 onwards the norms for attending in-person schools were stringent with masking and social distancing being observed and children with even mild symptoms staying home. However, since early 2022, that has changed, and masks and social distancing compliance is practically zero now.
To understand the magnitude of the issue of children falling sick repeatedly, LocalCircles conducted a survey in which over 31,000 responses were received from parents and grandparents located in 317 districts of India participated. 61% respondents were men while 39% respondents were women. 45% respondents were from tier 1, 35% from tier 2 and 20% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts.
30% parents surveyed indicated their children were unwell with cold, cough or fever 4 to 6 times in last 12 months; 3% indicated 7 to 12 times while 38% said 2-3 times
The survey asked parents, “Over the last 12 months, how many times on average have school going children in your family fallen sick (cough, cold, fever, other respiratory symptoms)” to which 86% of parents reported at least once. Of the 20,697 respondents to this question, 30% indicated 4 to 6 times; 3% indicated 7 to 12 times; 38% two to three times and 14% indicated once in the last 12 months. Only 14% of parents surveyed expressed relief that no child in their family had fallen sick in the last one year. What is noteworthy is that one in three parents reported that children in their home had fallen ill more than 4 times in the last 12 months.
47% parents surveyed said their children missed school always when unwell; 13% stated the children missed school most times when unwell
The survey then asked parents, “How did children attend classes, tests and exams” during their bouts of illness, cold and cough. A total of 11,163 parents responded to this query with only 6% sharing that their children “did not miss school despite being unwell” and only 8% sharing that their wards “attended classes online as the schools had both online and offline class options”. However, 47% parents said their children missed school always when unwell; 13% stated the children missed school most times when unwell but attended a few times; and 13% indicated their children missed school a few times when unwell but attended most times. 13% parents said the children did not fall sick during the past year. In all, 32% parents indicated that despite being unwell, their child did attend school once or more.
One of the concerns that many parents have reported on LocalCircles is the reduced immunity of their school going children. A common submission that many parents identify with is that many healthy children who would be unwell with seasonal flu once or twice a year pre-COVID are now falling sick between 3-5 times each year. The big question for immunologists is whether COVID has reduced immunity in children leading to them catching any virus much more easily and with no precautions being observed in schools, are they a fertile ground for these infections spreading. If we go by the survey results, 33% parents saying that their children have fallen sick 4 times or more in the last 12 months and 38% saying that they have fallen sick 2-4 times, it clearly indicates that something is off the charts on pediatric health post COVID.
The survey received over 31,000 responses from parents located in 317 districts of India. 61% respondents were men while 39% respondents were women. 45% respondents were from tier 1, 35% from tier 2 and 20% respondents were from tier 3, 4 and rural districts. The survey was conducted via LocalCircles platform and all participants were validated citizens who had to be registered with LocalCircles to participate in this survey.