Should Your Child Be Tested for COVID-19?
By: American Academy of Pediatrics (June 2020)
Many families are asking whether their children should be tested for COVID-19. The American Academy of Pediatrics encourages parents to talk to their child’s doctor about testing. Your pediatrician can help determine when testing may be a good idea based on infection rates and availability of tests in your area. They can also help you follow up on test results.
Types of COVID-19 tests
There are two types of COVID-19 tests: diagnostic tests and antibody tests. Your pediatrician can talk with you about what each test can do and when the tests can be most useful.
- Diagnostic testing: Does your child have COVID-19 now?
A diagnostic or viral test can show if your child currently has a COVID-19 infection. This type of testing may be used if you know your child was exposed to COVID-19 or if someone in your household is showing symptoms.
- Antibody testing: Has your child had COVID-19 at some point?
An antibody test checks a sample of your child’s blood for special proteins called antibodies. The body makes these to fight off viruses like SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Antibody tests help show whether someone’s immune system has been infected by COVID-19 in the past, even if there were no symptoms. Antibody tests cannot detect a current COVID-19 infection. This is because it may take up to three weeks after your child first shows symptoms of being sick before the test can find antibodies in the blood sample. Scientists do not know yet if people who had COVID-19 can catch it again. Keep in mind that these recommendations are subject to change as more information becomes available.
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