Children not major source of COVID-19 transmition, mothers under most stress: McMaster study


Published July 29, 2020 at 2:14 pm

According to research from McMaster University, children are not a major source of transmission of COVID-19.

According to research from McMaster University, children are not a major source of transmission of COVID-19.

Results of the study were released as provinces across Canada are deciding how to restart schools during the pandemic

Among the key findings, published on July 24, analyses of infection clusters revealed that transmission was traced back to community and home settings, rather than amongst children within daycares or schools.

Within household clusters, adults were much more likely to be the index case than children, according to the study.

“The bottom line thus far is that children under 10 years of age are unlikely to drive outbreaks of COVID-19 in daycares and schools and that, to date, adults were much more likely to be the transmitter of infection than children,” said Sarah Neil-Sztramko, an assistant professor with the NCCMT and McMaster’s Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact.

Meanwhile, a second review found that women with children were under the most stress due to the pandemic.

“We found that families are under strain, especially female caregivers and children, with increasing gender gaps in employment and household labour and poor mental health outcomes in children,” said Neil-Sztramko.

The review included 38 publications and found gender gaps in employment between women and men have grown during the pandemic, with women more than men experiencing reduced hours and job losses.

Women and higher-income earners are more likely to be in occupations that could be done from home, and among parents who can work from home, mothers reduced their work hours more than fathers, particularly mothers of primary school-aged children.

Maureen Dobbins, scientific director of the NCCMT and a professor in McMaster’s School of Nursing, added, “We recognized early on that there was a significant need to summarize the overwhelming amount of research evidence emerging on COVID-19, appraise its quality and distribute widely that evidence to support public health decision making in Canada.

“As a former public health nurse who has encouraged the use of the best available evidence research in public health decision making for decades, this is one contribution to ensure public health measures in Canada being informed by current and best evidence.”

The rapid evidence reviews were completed by the National Collaborating Centre for Methods and Tools (NCCMT), which is hosted by McMaster University and funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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