Are masks harmful to children? The deep-rooted “harmful theory” in the United States

In recent weeks, several states in the United States have announced plans to lift the wearing of masks, and the domino effect of easing restrictions has begun to spread.

Among all the measures taken by the United States to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, the requirement to wear masks in schools has always been a controversial issue, and the conflict between people from different political positions is particularly fierce in this regard.

Some parents and teachers believe that masks are harmful because they interfere with children’s breathing, hinder their social and emotional development, and cause anxiety. But experts point out that these concerns have no scientific basis.

Thomas Murray, a pediatrician at Yale University School of medicine, understands parents’ concerns about masks. He believes that wearing masks can undoubtedly prevent the spread of diseases, and there is no strict evidence of the impact of masks on the emotion and development of children over the age of two.

Experts, including Theresa Gilbert, a pediatric respiratory expert and a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Department of respiratory and sleep medicine, explained that most of the evidence from child observation studies shows that masks do not harm children and are beneficial to them in many ways.

Does the mask affect breathing?

One of the parents’ initial concerns about their children wearing masks all day is the impact on breathing. In other words, parents worry about whether their children will get enough oxygen or inhale too much carbon dioxide. According to Gilbert, many people are concerned because children breathe faster than adults.

However, there is no evidence that wearing masks can cause significant dyspnea. In June 2021, a research paper in the Journal of Pediatrics of the American Medical Association found that children aged 6-17 inhaled excessive levels of carbon dioxide when wearing masks. After the report was published, its accuracy and the validity of its conclusions were questioned and finally withdrawn.

Gilbert cites some data analysis to explain that changes in carbon dioxide and oxygen levels when wearing masks have proved to be “within the normal range” in adults and children. Most children with severe asthma may need to wear a mask, but she may need to take it off the hallway occasionally. Her report was published in the medical journal Acta Paediatrica on February 21, 2021.

She thinks this conclusion is reasonable. The molecules of carbon dioxide and oxygen are much smaller than the holes in the mask fabric, so they can pass through the mask freely. Moreover, during the two years of COVID-19’s destruction, there was no such incident as the inhalation of oxygen inhalation or carbon dioxide rise caused by wearing masks.

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