Can kids be harmed wearing masks to protect against Covid-19?
Original article written by Lindsey Tanner.
According to Lindsey Tanner, who researched this question, the answer is no, there is no scientific evidence showing masks cause harm to kids’ health. Despite this, there are claims suggesting otherwise.
The claims are circulating on social media and elsewhere, most of them being arguments that are unsupported by any evidence. They lead to beliefs that masks can foster germs if they become moist or cause unhealthy levels of carbon dioxide. But the real experts say that washing masks routinely keeps them safe and clean.
Some argue that young children miss important visual and social cues that enhance learning and development when their classmates and teachers are wearing masks. There may be some truth in this and teachers need to take notice of this. However, it has also been noted that children even with vision or hearing impairment learn to adapt and that others can too with help.
“We don’t know for sure that masks have no developmental effects but we do know that there are adverse effects from not trying to stop transmission,” said Dr. Emily Levy, a critical care and infection control expert at Mayo Clinic Children’s Center.
There’s strong evidence that masking children in schools can reduce COVID-19 transmission to other children and adults.
In various states in America, it’s been found that COVID-19 outbreaks are two times more common in those that do not have a mandate for mask wearing. Studies from school districts in some states have also found that masking can greatly reduce COVID-19 transmission rates, especially when it’s combined with physical distancing and other prevention measures.
“One thing that we know about prevention, about infection control is that there isn’t a single intervention that will win the day,” said Dr. Joshua Schaffzin, director of infection prevention and control at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital. But he noted there’s plenty of evidence that masking is a key component in making schools safer.
To avoid skin irritation, doctors suggest washing masks regularly, making sure they fit properly and picking masks made with soft, breathable fabric.