There has been an increase in cases of babies and toddlers with coughs and colds in Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent, reflecting a national trend.
An increasing number of young children have never been exposed to mild viruses because of social distancing measures.
Babies who were been born during the first lockdown, have not had a chance to build a strong immunity because of social distancing.
This was expected, as there is evidence from places like Australia and New Zealand, which, because of their seasons being different to ours, have now experienced two winters where children have had limited exposure to common respiratory illnesses as a result of the pandemic.
Steve Fawcett, Medical Director at Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent CCGs said: “We are urging parents with children who are experiencing mild cold symptoms such as a sore throat, cough or cold to book a COVID-19 test at one of the community testing centres to ensure their condition is not COVID-19.
“If the test comes back as negative, visiting your local community pharmacy is the quickest and most convenient way to access advice and care.
“A negative test may allow you to be seen by the most appropriate services and potentially quicker.”
He added: “It’s not uncommon for young children to have several coughs or cold-like illnesses a year. It is normal for a child to have eight or more colds a year. This is because there are hundreds of different cold viruses and young children have no immunity to any of them as they have never had them before.
“Children gradually build up immunity and get fewer colds. Most colds get better in 5 to 7 days but can take up to 2 weeks in small children.”
If your child has any of these symptoms, a persistent sore throat for more than 4 days, a high temperature, breathlessness, or is generally unwell, contact NHS 111 in the first instance to get signposted to the right service.
NHS 111 can help you get the most appropriate help. If needed, NHS 111 can book you an appointment at the emergency department of Royal Stoke University Hospital or the Haywood Walk-In Centre.
Parents can treat minor symptoms and illnesses at home and are encouraged to ensure they are prepared.
Here is a list of things that can be brought from a pharmacy or supermarket which might help you care for an unwell child at home:
Children’s ibuprofen (children with asthma may not be able to take ibuprofen, so check with a pharmacist)
Children’s cough syrup
Nasal saline drops
If your child is struggling to breathe, appears floppy, or becomes unresponsive call 999. If they are unable to feed or drink or have a dry nappy for more than 12 hours, call 111 to arrange an urgent medical assessment.