Stomach illness including diarrhea, coupled with a history of fever and exposure to the coronavirus, could be the earliest signs of COVID-19 in children, according to a study published in Frontiers of Pediatrics and reported in Frontiers Science News. Five patients under the age of 6 were hospitalized with nonrespiratory symptoms in Wuhan, China, between January 23 and February 20, 2020; all were positive for the coronavirus.

“Most children are only mildly affected by COVID-19 and the few severe cases often have underlying health issues. It is easy to miss its diagnosis in the early stage, when a child has non-respiratory symptoms or suffers from another illness,” says author of this study Wenbin Li, MD, who works at the Department of Pediatrics, Tongji Hospital, Wuhan, China.

“These children were seeking medical advice in the emergency department for unrelated problems, for example, one had a kidney stone, another a head trauma. All had pneumonia confirmed by chest CT scan before or soon after admission and then confirmed to have COVID-19. While their initial symptoms may have been unrelated, or their COVID-19 symptoms were initially mild or relatively hidden before their admission to hospital, importantly, 4 of the 5 cases had digestive tract symptoms as the first manifestation of this disease.”

Read more from Frontiers Science News and find the study in Frontiers in Pediatrics.