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Covid-19: Why building immunity in kids is important ahead of third wave | Health


The fear of a possible third wave of Covid-19 infections affecting children as severely as adults in the coming months has sent everyone in a panic mode. A committee set up by the Union Home Ministry has spoken about the critical need of paediatric facilities, including doctors, staff, and equipment like ventilators and ambulances, if a large number of children got infected by the virus. It further said the available infrastructure was “nowhere close” to the requirement, if the need arose.

Experts have said that it is important to build natural immunity in children by way of healthy diet, physical exercise and breathing exercises.

“Prevention is always better,” agrees Dr. Neeraj Awasthy, a Pediatric Cardiologist and General Physician at Max Super Specialty Hospital, Saket, who says that third wave or not the pandemic has raised awareness about the importance of having a good immunity and one should start looking at the pandemic from a positive mindset rather than getting panicked.

What would be different in case of Covid-19 third wave?

“The third wave is going to be different in a way that most of the adult population are immunized or mostly exposed. The antibody levels in most of the population have started to build up. The vulnerable group would be the one who is not immunized or has low immunity. This group is mostly going to be children. The best way to deal with this is to build up our immune system. To do that one needs to build a healthy life in the form of healthy diet rich in nutrients like Vitamin c, Vitamin A and Vitamin B12.

There are certain things about Covid-19 that we know and things that we do not know.

“Virus keeps on changing its form. The entry was initially respiratory and most of the time it is muco-respiratory, which means the entry was through mucus membranes like nose or airways. It also impacts body’s immune system in two ways. One is its direct effect on immunity and the other is hyperimmune response. A hyperimmune response is one where it tries to damage body’s own system,” says Dr. Awasthy.

The doctor adds that one needs to boost body’s natural immune system to fight the virus and that could happen only when people alter their lifestyle drastically, keeping health as their central priority.

Dr Awasthy gives tips for boosting immunity in children:

Get your basics right: Wear masks, follow social distancing

Children need to be educated about these measures and reminded time and again how important they are for their safety from the virus.

“The good old measures of wearing masks and social distancing measures will always be relevant even after vaccination. Hand hygiene is equally important. Children have to be told repeatedly about infection control measures. They need to follow good practices in form of washing hands, saying namaste when meeting people and not shake hands,” says Dr. Awasthy.

Don’t be a couch potato

Our body’s immune system is always better if there is good circulation or movement in the body. If you are glued to the screen all the time, do not engage in physical activity and eat fatty stuff, your circulation starts getting affected and jeopardizes your immune system. “The child should be encouraged to play, if possible not just indoor games. They should do some kind of physical activity,” advises the doctor.

Inculcating the habit of doing breathing exercises

Breathing exercises are excellent for building lung’s capacity, oxygenating body cells and in building up body’s natural immunity against infections. “Children should develop this positive habit for their overall health in future also, plus it is going to be a big deterrent for these viruses,” says Dr. Awasthy.

Eat healthy diet

Children are advised to have home-cooked food and stay away from junk wherever possible. Their diet should be packed with nutrition and they must consume seasonal fruits and vegetables.

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