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XE variant scare: How to protect your child from Covid and improve immunity

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The emergence of the all-new recombinant Covid-19 strain dubbed as XE variant has become a cause of worry for all. So, far the most transmissible variant, this Omicron strain is expected to infect people faster and more efficiently than previous strains, although the severity is mild as per experts. (Also read: What is XE variant? Experts on common symptoms, severity and possibility of new wave)

Considering the strain spreads fast, it is important to continue following Covid-appropriate behaviour like wearing mask, washing hands frequently and social distancing. A Noida school recently switched back to online classes for few days after some of its students were tested Covid positive. The pandemic is not over yet and it’s important to protect vulnerable population including children.

Here are expert tips that will help you protect children from Covid-19, from building immunity, getting Covid jab to making some required lifestyle modifications.

Stay informed, build immunity

“There is currently no indication that the XE variant is considerably different from the other variants. However, one should be informed of what is going on in the world and around children’s health and how to keep their child’s immunity strong during such times,” Dr Amit Gupta, Senior Consultant Paediatrician & Neonatologist, Motherhood Hospital, Noida.

Healthy lifestyle choices

Good nutrition, regular exercise and hygiene practices can reduce risk of infection.

“The focus should be on providing good nutrition which will in turn strengthen the child’s immunity along with maintaining basic hygienic care which includes sanitation and hand washing practices,” says Dr Fazal Nabi, consultant paediatrician at Global Hospital, Parel Mumbai.

Flu vaccine or Covid jab

Dr Nabi says that children below 12 years must opt for their yearly flu vaccine and those above it should get vaccinated for Covid.

Eat well

Kids need to eat a diet rich in protein for building strong muscles.

“A healthy diet loaded with fruits, vegetables, legumes, pulses, and wholegrain is a must to enhance your child’s immunity. Vitamin C from oranges and citrus fruits will boost immunity and prevent infections. Get the daily dose of iron from leafy green vegetables,” says Dr Atul Palwe, Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist, Motherhood Hospital, Lullanagar, Pune.

“Kids should be given probiotics to strengthen the immune system. They can have homemade yogurt or curd.

Vitamin E, zinc, and omega 3 fatty acids, in walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts can also enhance immunity and help to stay strong. Try to give the kids nuts in the quantity recommended by the doctor,” adds Dr Palwe.

Stay hydrated, take vitamins

“We must continue to maintain hand hygiene standards, ensuring that children drink lots of water, and ingest vitamins to keep them safe,” says Dr Gupta.

Staying hydrated is quite important as it will also help in blood circulation, support metabolism, and flush out harmful toxins from the body as per Dr Palwe.

Personal hygiene

“Maintain good personal hygiene by wearing masks, maintaining social distance, and sanitizing hands when required. Kids should avoid handshakes or hugging other children. Parents need to disinfect frequently touched surfaces such as furniture, doorknobs, handles, or faucets,” says Dr Palwe.

More sleep, less screen time

Dr Gupta says parents must make sure that their children and sleeping well and receiving 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Screen time should be reduced while physical activity must be increased which is crucial for their mental and physical well-being.

Exclusive breastfeeding for newborns

“If you have recently delivered your baby, keep breastfeeding them exclusively. That can keep the mother and child in good health,” advises Dr Gupta.

Here are some nutrition tips to avoid Covid and its variants by Jagriti Barar Executive Nutritionist Cloudnine Group of Hospitals Malad, Mumbai.

• Include sources of vitamin C.

• Eat a combination of different foods including whole grains such as wheat, maize and rice, legumes like lentils and beans, fruit and vegetables and some foods from animal sources (e.g. meat, fish, eggs and milk).

• Consume unsaturated fats, found in fish, avocado, nuts, olive oil, soy, canola, sunflower and corn oils rather than saturated fats – found in fatty meat, butter, coconut oil, cream, cheese, ghee and lard.

• Choose white meat – poultry and fish, which are generally low in fat, rather than red meat.

• When cooking and preparing food, limit the amount of salt and high-sodium condiments like soy sauce and fish sauce.

• Water is essential for life. It transports nutrients and compounds in blood, regulates your body temperature, gets rid of waste, and lubricates and cushions joints. Drink 8–10 cups of water every day.

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