Pedia groups: Face masks not recommended for infants
TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, April 26 (PIA) — As infants do not have fully developed immune systems that make them susceptible to coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and therefore needs utmost care, putting face masks or face shields on them is dangerous and often fatal.
This was the statement issued by the Philippine Pediatric Society (PPS) and Philippine Society of Newborn Medicine (PSNbM) on April 22, 2020.
In the joint statement on the use of face shields for newborns during this Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome 2 Coronavirus Disease (SARS COV 2) pandemic, both agree that COVID-19 remains an invisible threat to people worldwide, regardless of age, that protection of the most vulnerable is among their utmost care.
But on the misinformed practice of putting face shields or home-made face masks by parents on their infants in their desire to protect their newborn babies from the deadly virus, the groups do not recommend and, in fact, prohibits the use of any form of facial protective covering on the newborn because of the high risk of suffocation it could bring.
Suffocation, leading to lack of oxygen delivery and carbon dioxide retention, when displaced can cause strangulation and sudden infant death syndrome.
Physicians specializing in infant care said infants are respiratory-compromised: their airways are smaller that breathing through a face shield or mask is even harder on them.
Using a mask on a baby may increase the risk of suffocation and strangulation, the doctors said.
Moreover, if infants find it hard for them to breath, they are unable to take the mask off themselves and they could end up suffocated.
For mothers nursing the infant, removing and putting on the face shield before and after breastfeeding can be cumbersome, and it could reduce the feeding frequency and this could affect the baby’s nutrition.
For proper infant care, the PPS and PSNbM suggest limiting infant exposure and unnecessary public contact.
If going out with the infant is essential, the baby carrier may be covered with a blanket (but never the infant) as this helps protect the baby.
Mothers are advised to always keep their hands clean before breastfeeding and to regularly practice proper handwashing or hand sanitizing before feeding the baby.
They also urged caregivers or siblings to also wash their hands before touching the baby.
They also suggest that mothers and caregivers or yayas should wear a mask or face shield instead, and use a cloth sling when holding or breastfeeding the baby.
On this, both groups said they would rather support the statements of the Centers for Disease Control and the American Academy of Pediatrics which stated that face coverings should not be placed on young children under age two, and on anyone who has trouble breathing, or anyone unconscious or those incapacitated such as those unable to remove the mask without assistance. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)