Worried that wearing masks in school will harm your kids? Doctor addresses fact and fiction

Coronavirus Impacting Iowa

DES MOINES, Iowa — As the Ankeny School District considers bringing back mandatory facemasks, parents are sifting through a barrage of information about face coverings. Some information on masks claims that they are potentially hazardous to kids.

According to the Chief Medical Officer for Broadlawns Medical Center, Dr. Yogesh Shah, if a child wears a mask for a long period of time the worst that could happen is a staph skin infection. However, Dr. Shah said these also happen without masks and are easily treatable. 

“Yes, there is a potential for skin infection called staph skin infection, which can happen to many, has happened in the past, before masks wearing.  I have seen kids who would come with staph infection on the skin and with local antibiotic cream it gets better,” Dr. Shah said. 

Another common concern raised by parents includes claims that masks expose children to unhealthy levels of carbon dioxide. 

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, carbon dioxide molecules are smaller than respiratory droplets and can’t be trapped by breathable materials like cloth or disposable masks.

Dr. Shah suggests routinely washing cloth masks to prevent any illnesses.

Another claim is that masks create communication challenges for children with disabilities.

To this, Dr. Shah suggests parents invest in masks designed to make the mouth visible.

The American Academy of Pediatrics also reports that from August to September, there has been a 10-percent increase in COVID-19 cases among children. 

In deciding to bring its mask mandate back, the West Des Moines school pointed out that the number of positive cases among school kids nearly tripled after mask mandates were banned. Dr. Shah believes this number will increase if children aren’t wearing masks in schools.

“The schools which have made masks mandatory, the contact positive rate has been significantly low. So there is very clear evidence that masks do work,” Dr. Shah said. 

In response to WHO 13’s inquiry about health risks for children wearing masks, the Iowa Department of Public Health said it encourages all Iowans to wear masks to protect themselves against the virus.

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