CDC Surveillance: Obesity, Asthma, ‘Other Diseases’ Are Seen in Hospitalized COVID-Positive Children, Ages 0-17

By Susan Jones | August 19, 2021 | 6:51am EDT
A Covid-19 patient in the Intensive Care Unit at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center in Tarzana, California on January 3, 2021. (Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)
A Covid-19 patient at Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center in Tarzana, California on January 3, 2021. (Photo by APU GOMES/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Most reported cases of COVID-19 in children under the age of 18 are asymptomatic or mild.

However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says hospitalization rates for children, while far lower than that for adults, are increasing in school-age children, ages 5-17.

Some of these children are at risk for severe COVID, CDC says, particularly those with underlying medical conditions.

According to CDC’s website:

Children with underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness compared to children without underlying medical conditions. Current evidence on which underlying medical conditions in children are associated with increased risk is limited.

Current evidence suggests that children with medical complexity, with genetic, neurologic, metabolic conditions, or with congenital heart disease can be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19. Similar to adults, children with obesity, diabetes, asthma or chronic lung disease, sickle cell disease, or immunosuppression can also be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

CDC’s COVID-NET (the COVID-19-Associated Hospitalization Surveillance Network) conducts population-based surveillance on hospitalized children, under age 18, who have confirmed cases of COVID.

The network covers 99 counties in 14 states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Iowa, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, and Utah), or approximately 10 percent of the U.S. population.

Based on hospital data from March 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021, COVID-NET reported the following selected underlying medical conditions in hospitalized children under age 18 who were diagnosed with COVID-19:

Obesity leads the list (34 percent), followed by “other diseases” (20.7 percent), asthma (14.8 percent), neurologic disease (13 percent), metabolic disease (5.1%), chronic lung disease (4.9 percent), cardiovascular disease (4.9 percent), immune suppression (4.7 percent), hypertension (1.5 percent), renal disease (1.1 percent), and gastrointestinal/liver disease (1 percent) and autoimmune disease (0.5 percent).

COVID-NET found that 46.3 percent of this pediatric sample had “no known condition.”

(COVID-NET chart from
(COVID-NET chart from

In an August 13, 2021 COVID Tracker summary, CDC notes that some children who have had COVID-19 may later develop Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a rare but serious condition associated with COVID-19. As of July 30, 2021, CDC has received reports of more than 4,400 children in the United States who have been diagnosed with COVID-19-associated MIS-C.

According to CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, “Increased hospitalization rates among adolescents might be related, in part, to circulation of particularly transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants, the larger numbers of children returning to school or other in-person indoor activities, and changes in physical distancing, wearing masks, and other COVID-19 prevention behaviors.

MMWR also said “SARS-CoV-2 transmission occurs more easily in high schools than in elementary schools, and outbreaks have been associated with high school extracurricular activities. Vaccination of adolescents is expected to reduce the risk for COVID-19 in these settings.

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