When the COVID-19 pandemic first began, everyone was relieved to hear that the virus didn’t affect kids very much.

However, as we learn more and more about the dreaded illness, we’re finding that COVID-19 does, in fact, infect children. The difference is, and perhaps the one good thing about this piece of information is that kids don’t often feel sick or show symptoms, so they don’t have to suffer. Some report feeling typical allergy or cold symptoms and others nothing at all.

But now for the bad news: The latter is what we have to worry about. New research out of the Massachusetts General Hospital and MassGeneral Hospital for Children suggests that asymptomatic children actually carry a higher COVID-19 viral load than sick adults—and that even includes sick adults in the ICU.

Having a higher viral load means that kids can more easily pass on the virus to others (i.e., they’re more likely to expel respiratory droplets that contain the virus, which is the main way coronavirus is spread).

“What surprised us the most was that children carried very high viral loads in their airway secretions,” said Lael Yonker, lead author of the study and director of the hospital’s Cystic Fibrosis Center. “Loads that were higher than adults who are hospitalized for their severe COVID illness.”

What does this all mean? Children play a greater role in spreading COVID-19 than was once believed. It’s why schools are hesitant to bring children back to the classrooms, as they can be a key factor in spreading the virus to classmates and teachers who can then spread it to their families and so on.

To ensure minimal spread, it’s important that parents continue to teach their children about proper health precautions like social distancing, wearing masks, etc.

Did you know children could spread the disease as much as they could? Do you know of any kids who have gotten the virus?