Omicron, Obesity, and Children in the Hospital

Cup of Cognition (The Children's Cup)In the midst of a huge surge of COVID cases due to omicron, hospitals are seeing a remarkable growth in children admitted with COVID. Until last week, the record for daily hospital admissions of children up to 17 years old with COVID was 340. That’s a seven-day average. But last week brought nearly twice as many – an average of 672 per day. A new CDC study tells us that most children admitted to a hospital had an underlying health condition putting them at risk and the most common one was obesity. Among adolescents in the hospital with COVID, 61 percent had obesity.

However, very few of the children admitted to a hospital – only 0.4 percent – had received a COVID vaccine if they were eligible.

Longer Hospital Stays with Obesity

For children with obesity, the hospital stays were twice as long. They were slightly less than twice as likely to go into the ICU. Twice as many of them needed help with breathing. About one and a half percent of these children died – regardless of whether they had obesity or not.

We already knew that obesity is an important risk factor for severe COVID in children and youth. But this study reveals an unnecessary tragedy. More than 99 percent of children hospitalized with COVID were unvaccinated. That disturbing percentage counts only the children who were eligible for the vaccine.

A Simple Bottom Line

The bottom line here is simple. Obesity puts a child at risk for landing in the hospital with COVID. It’s not easy to reverse obesity, but It is very easy (and free) to cut that risk with vaccination. In fact, it cuts the risk by 90 percent. That’s huge. So leaving a child unprotected is a sad mistake.

Click here for the CDC study of children hospitalized for COVID. For more on the rising numbers of children admitted to hospitals with COVID, click here. Finally for further perspective on vaccination in kids, click here, here, and here.

Cup of Cognition (The Children’s Cup), painting by Odilon Redon / WikiArt

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January 7, 2022

One Response to “Omicron, Obesity, and Children in the Hospital”

  1. January 07, 2022 at 3:28 pm, John DiTraglia said:

    The references about the vaccine efficacy are for the delta variant. The omicron denominator is way bigger and many more children than adults are not vaccinated but the data for vaccine efficacy I can’t find yet though children still do way better than old people.