SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Children are less likely to die from COVID-19, says a new study just out by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

However, the same study shows children and teens from ethnic and racial minorities are disproportionately affected by the virus. Western Mass News spoke with a local pediatrician, getting answers on what parents need to know.

It's a good-news-bad-news mix from the CDC. While one life lost is too many, researchers said it is rare for a child to die of COVID-19. But some, including minority groups and those with underlying health issues, appear to be more affected than others.

The CDC's new data shows that of the 190,000 Americans who have died from COVID-19 to date, just 121 were under the age of 21.

However, Doctor John Kelley, a pediatrician at Redwood Pediatrics in East Longmeadow, said while that's encouraging news, it is no time to become complacent.

"It's something we still need to watch out for, especially in vulnerable populations," he said. "Children with other respiratory issues, asthma, children with delays, cognitive delays, and other risk factors."

The study shows, along with children with those underlying health conditions, those from minority groups were disproportionately affected.

Of those 121 who died, the CDC said 44-percent were Hispanic children, 29-percent Black, 4-percent American Indian and Alaska Natives, and 4-percent Asian or Pacific Islander.

Kelley told Western Mass News while children, in general, are less affected, keep in mind if exposed, they can still be carriers of COVID-19.

"So we need to keep those children quarantined, we don't want them around grandma or grandpa, high risk over 65," he said. "Aunt and uncle who may be obese and have diabetes, so we have to be vigilant about that."

Kelley also said his practice continues to send children for testing who show any symptoms.

"Its good news, especially good news for me as a pediatrician, that I'm not seeing a lot of serious illness with COVID-19. But I am counseling my patients and am still sending a lot of kids for testing and screening even though the child looks like he has a regular cold," Kelley explained.

The takeaway for parents on the new study...

"I would say that you can be reassured that if your child gets COVID-19, they are unlikely to get very seriously ill from it. But having said that, one death is one death too many, and we need to be vigilant and watch our children if they have symptoms consistent with the disease," Kelley added.

The study looked at the data up until the end of July. It also shows 25-percent of the deaths were in otherwise healthy children. However, 75-percent had at least one underlying health issue.

Copyright 2020 Western Mass News (Meredith Corporation).  All rights reserved.

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