Forcing kids to wear masks may prove detrimental: Experts
Deccan Chronicle.| Tushar Kaushik
As offline classes have been resumed despite the prevalence of the pandemic, parents of young children are still exercising caution
Consultant paediatrician at Apollo Cradle, Kondapur, Dr Avash Pani said children up to the age of nine or 10 could not be expected to be disciplined enough to wear masks. (Representational image: PTI)
Hyderabad: Forcing young children to wear masks and allowing them to use sanitisers without supervision in schools could be detrimental, according to paediatric experts.
As offline classes have been resumed despite the prevalence of the pandemic, parents of young children are still exercising caution. Many of them are approaching paediatricians with doubts about whether their child should wear masks at school, and whether the child should use sanitisers.
Dr Sivaranjani Santosh, a consultant paediatrician at Magna Centres and Rainbow Hospitals, Hyderabad, says she gets many queries from parents of young children regarding kids wearing masks at schools. She says it is not practical to enforce masks for kids.
"Children may pull down the mask often or not wear it properly, and the whole day they sit in the same class, so it won’t benefit them much and might, in fact, backfire. I strongly feel that at this point, the risk to benefit ratio is in favour of not using masks. Anyway, WHO doesn’t approve masks for kids below the age of five, and for older kids it is as per the comfort level of the child," she said.
Dr Santosh also advises against use of sanitisers by children when they are in schools, as it could be dangerous if it comes into contact with the eyes, and has the risk of accidental ingestion and also could have a detrimental effect on skin if used excessively. "Instead, children should be encouraged to wash their hands with soap and water," she added.
Consultant paediatrician at Apollo Cradle, Kondapur, Dr Avash Pani said children up to the age of nine or 10 could not be expected to be disciplined enough to wear masks. He said as Covid cases were not expected to rise in the near future, children could be allowed not to wear masks in schools. "We can do this compromise for the sake of sending children to schools, as staying at home affects them adversely," he said.
Dr Pani also advocated supervising use of sanitisers by children, and discouraging them from sharing food as of now, as it risked the spread of infection. "The wave might be over but the pandemic is still on," he said.
Dr Santosh said she often got queries from parents whether the child’s bag needed to be sanitised after school. She advised parents to reduce the use of sanitiser sprays at home, as the risk of surface spread was minimal. "You can just keep the bags away for half an hour or so, if you want to be cautious," she said.