Official data suggests that more children and young adults than ever have been hospitalized with colds and respiratory issues, according to the Daily Mail, which notes that "experts have repeatedly warned lockdowns and measures used to contain Covid like face masks also suppressed the spread of germs which are crucial for building a strong immune system in children."
According to a retrospective report by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), levels of common cold viruses hit their highest level among non-adults in August 2021 - when levels had been much lower in previous years during the same month.
According to the data which sampled nearly 700 children, nearly 55% tested positive for RSV in August 2021. Of that, 450 were moved to emergency departments where nearly 35% had RSV - which is comparable to the winter months when over 30% of patients regularly have the virus, according to the report.
The CDC samples random pediatric hospitals across the US and makes national estimates to gauge how prevalent viruses are.
There were nearly 700 children in hospital sick with a respiratory virus across the seven wards studied in August last year, of which just over half had tested positive for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) - which is normally benign.
This was the highest levels ever recorded in summer, and came off the back of a year and a half of brutal pandemic restrictions forcing many to stay indoors.
The record all-time high is in December, when 60 per cent of children on wards with respiratory illnesses were infected with RSV. -Daily Mail
What's more, separate data from the CDC indicates that hospital visits for those under four years old may be getting worse. For the week ending Sept. 18 of this year, 4.7% of ER visits in the US for toddlers were for breathing difficulties.
Yale medical director Dr. Scott Roberts told the Mail that lockdowns robbed children of the ability to build up immunity to common illnesses.
"There are two implications to this," he said. "First, the gap gives time for the viruses to mutate even further to cause more severe disease. And second, whatever immunity was built up to those viruses' it will have waned making the immune response now much less potent."
Roberts added that his son, who just turned two-years-old, was coming down with repeated infections after starting daycare.
"We were pretty sheltered during the pandemic," he said, adding "But now my son has just started daycare and he is getting constant infections."
The rise in hospitalizations among children was noted in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), after scientists monitored seven hospitals in seven states for the number of children admitted for respiratory issues. Each child was then tested to determine what disease they had - which doesn't necessarily mean that was the reason for hospitalization.