A study published this week found that younger children were more likely to transmit COVID-19 to their households than older children.
The study, which was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), observed more than 6,000 Canadian households between June 1, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020.
Children aged three and younger had the highest odds of transmitting the COVID-19 virus to their households when compared to children aged 14 to 17, according to the study. Children aged between four and 13 were also found to have higher odds of transmission, though not as much as the younger demographic.
"In this study of 6280 pediatric index cases, we observed that children aged 0 to 3 years had greater odds of transmitting SARS-CoV-2 to household contacts compared with children aged 14 to 17 years," researchers wrote. "This association was observed irrespective of factors such as presence of symptoms, school/childcare reopening, or association with a school/childcare outbreak."
Researchers suggested that the difference in transmission rates could be attributed to differences in viral shedding, behaviors and symptom expression. However, they acknowledged that further study into the role that children play in COVID-19 transmission was needed.
Multiple studies, such as a September study conducted by the University College London, have found that children are less likely to contract COVID-19. That study found that children and young people are up to 40 percent less likely to contract COVID-19 than adults.
Also, children who do contract the virus have been shown to be less likely to develop severe cases. Children under the age of 12 are still not eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine in the U.S.
However, the latest surge in COVID-19 cases brought on by the more infectious delta variant has resulted in skyrocketing numbers of children getting hospitalized due to the coronavirus. Last week, the seven-day average for pediatric admissions reached a record 239 per day.
Experts are still unsure if the high rate of admission is due to the delta variant being more severe or because there are more infections in general.