FAQ: Children and face masks

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Face masks have become an essential tool for protecting yourself and others from COVID-19 infection and limiting its spread.

While there is a COVID-19 vaccine available for everyone aged 12 and over, for the youngest or unvaccinated, the CDC and the American Academy of Pediatrics both strongly recommend universal interior masking for all. teachers, staff, students and visitors to K-12 schools, regardless of your immunization status.

However, some parents are concerned that face masks could affect their children’s ability to breathe properly or delay their speech and language skills, or cause other long-term health risks. If you’re concerned about face masks in children, here’s a look at some of the most common questions and what the science is saying.

Are there any benefits of wearing masks at school?

Yes. Children and teens can pass the SARS-CoV-2 virus to others, including parents, grandparents, and teachers, experts say, even if they don’t have symptoms or have a reaction benign. Wearing a properly fitted face mask that covers both the nose and mouth inside can reduce the rate of coronavirus infection to less than 1% if everyone is wearing a mask.

For parents or adults caring for the elderly or immunocompromised, research shows that masking in children is the best and safest way to send your child to school and reduce the rate of infection among children, school staff and family members at home.

Can they make it harder to breathe oxygen?

No. While some parents are concerned that wearing masks for long hours could result in low blood oxygen levels, there is no cause for concern. The masks are made from materials designed to allow healthy oxygen flow while your child breathes.

It also does not affect their ability to concentrate. In fact, almost all children aged 2 and over, even those with certain medical conditions, can safely wear masks in school or daycare for long periods of time.

Are there any health risks for children wearing masks?

No. Children can safely wear masks all day. There is a myth that wearing masks for long hours could mean breathing too much carbon dioxide (CO2), which could lead to hypercapnia – CO2 poisoning. But this is not true. Evidence shows that CO2 molecules are small enough to pass through the pores of your mask, so it’s not possible for children to poison themselves with CO2 while wearing masks in school.

However, if your child is 2 years old or younger, experts note that it is best for them not to wear a mask because they cannot take it off if they need it or ask for help. Children with severe breathing or cognitive problems may find it difficult to wear masks for long periods of time. They may need to take extra precautions to socially distance themselves in order to protect themselves from the virus.

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Can masks interfere with lung development in children?

No. Wearing a mask for long periods of time at school will not affect your growing child’s lung development. In fact, the mask allows oxygen to circulate properly in and around it while protecting your child from coming into contact with sputum, coughing, sneezing, or other airborne particles. air that could carry the COVID-19 virus. Preventing or limiting the spread of COVID-19 with masks is one way to make sure your child’s lungs stay healthy.

Do masks interfere with the development of a healthy immune system?

Not at all. Wearing masks will not compromise your child’s immunity or increase their risk of catching COVID-19 or other infections. In fact, because face masks cover your nose and mouth, they prevent your child from constantly touching their face.

It reduces several infections, including COVID-19, which are spread by touch, body fluid droplets, or through the air. Face masks protect your child’s overall health and immunity.

Can face masks delay speech and language skills?

No. Since children learn to communicate by observing the faces, mouths, and expressions of people closest to them, it’s understandable to wonder if face masks affect their motor skills. But there is no evidence that face masks have a negative impact on children’s speech and language learning skills.

In fact, when wearing masks, experts note that children learn to pay close attention to gestures, changes in tone of voice, emotions through eye movement, and words to develop the same speaking skills. and language.

What about children with certain health problems?

It depends. According to the World Health Organization, if your child has developmental issues, cognitive impairment, severe breathing problems, certain disabilities, or medical conditions that prevent them from tolerating masks for long periods of time or breathing properly, the wearing of a mask for these children should not be compulsory.

Depending on your child’s specific health needs, the decision to wear a face mask should be something that you, as a parent or guardian, should decide with the professional advice of your child’s doctor.

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Does wearing masks cause psychological damage in children?

No. According to experts, there is no evidence that face masks have a negative impact on your child’s mental and psychological well-being. What’s more, no studies show that wearing face masks can lead to depression or anxiety in children.

Sources

SOURCES:

AAP: “Face masks”.

CDC: “Know What to Expect in Kindergarten to Grade 12 or Your Child’s Early Childhood Care and Education Program.”

WHO: “Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Children and masks. “

University of Utah Health: “Children, Masks and Mental Health: Navigating the Myths”.

Healthychildren.org: “Mask Mythbusters: Common Questions About Children and Face Masks”, “Do Masks Delay Speech and Language Development? “


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