Vomiting and diarrhoea could be coronavirus symptoms in kids new study shows

Friday, 4th September 2020, 11:17 am
Updated Friday, 4th September 2020, 1:12 pm
Researchers say that symptoms of coronavirus may present differently in children. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Researchers say that symptoms of coronavirus may present differently in children. (Photo: Shutterstock)

A new trial has identified gut-based symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting as common in children who have coronavirus.

The study was undertaken by researchers at Queen's University, Belfast, and tested the blood of around 1,000 kids - with an average age of 10 - to identify if they'd recently contracted the  virus.

The researchers found that gut-based symptoms such as diarrhoea and vomiting were better indicators of coronavirus than some of the NHS-listed symptoms like coughing.

“In our group, diarrhoea and vomiting were more predictive than, say, cough or even changes in smell and taste,” Dr Tom Waterfield, the first author of the research, told The Guardian. 

“If you want to actually diagnose infection in children, we need to start looking at diarrhoea and vomiting, not just upper respiratory tract symptoms.”

The gut-based symptoms don't appear in the official NHS list of Covid-19 symptoms: fever, coughing and loss of taste and smell.

Going by these three symptoms, researchers said that testing children with them would identify 76% of cases, (presuming an accurate test) while adding on gastrointestinal symptoms would boost that figure up to 97%.

While only 34 of the children involved in the study had symptoms, Dr Waterfield told The Guardian the findings were still important - especially as they indicate that diarrhoea and vomiting are clear symptoms to spot.

The findings are backed up by data from the Covid symptom study app, run by researchers at King's College London. Data from the app suggests that a cough is not as common in children as it is in adults who are infected with coronavirus, and that children who test positive have a wide range of symptoms.

It's possible that the findings may cause complications with regards to the UK's current testing strategies - which encourages people to get a test if they have any of the three official NHS symptoms.