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What are symptoms of the omicron variant in kids?

Doctors say if your child has cold symptoms, assume "it’s omicron until proven otherwise."

The newest omicron COVID variant is making its way across the country, seemingly much faster than the variants that came before it.

While there are still a lot of questions surrounding just how omicron affects people, recent data shows a particular increase in COVID-related hospitalizations in kids.

Children in the U.S. have been hospitalized at nearly twice the rate of adults in the past four weeks, according to Department of Health and Human Services data analyzed by NBC News. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data shows such a dramatic increase.

The news organization also cites Florida as one of the five states that have contributed most to the nationwide rise in pediatric hospitalizations. 

The New York State Department of Health even sent out a notice to physicians on Christmas Eve warning of "an upward trend in pediatric hospitalizations associated with COVID-19," particularly in children less than five years old — who aren't eligible for the vaccine yet.

While some doctors say the risk of children developing severe illness from COVID-19 is still relatively low, it's a good idea to know which symptoms to look out for.

Omicron COVID variant symptoms reported for kids

Symptoms associated with the omicron variant in kids may be similar to those of a mild cold, Dr. Aaron Milstone, pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center, told the "Today" show.

Those include:

  • cough
  • fatigue
  • congestion

Milstone added that kids can also show symptoms similar to those seen with other COVID variants, including:

  • fever
  • sore throat
  • loss of taste and smell   

RELATED: Here are the most prominent symptoms of the omicron variant

Milstone told The Washington Post he has seen more fevers in children infected with omicron compared to other variants. 

He added that while the cold, the flu and other respiratory illnesses are going around, right now COVID is the main culprit of these common symptoms.

The bottom line: if your child has cold symptoms, Milstone tells the Post, assume "it’s omicron until proven otherwise."

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