Can children wear N95 / PFF2 masks? experts explain

The entities recommend the use of the mask, but not all models are suitable for children, such as the N95 / PFF2. | Photo: Bigstock

Children can also transmit and develop Covid-19, and wearing masks is a recommended protective measure. Although health entities suggest different ages for adoption of care, one guideline seems to be unanimous: provide the N95 / PFF2 models for children.

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“everything I read [sobre o uso das máscaras N95/PFF2 para crianças] advised against. It is a mask that suffocates a lot, is difficult to use, and cannot replace other protective measures, such as ventilation “, explains Maria Martha Duque de Moura, pediatrician and hygienist at the National Institute of women’s and children’s health and the adolescent Fernandes Figueira (IFF / Fiocruz).

Moura explains that when calculating child protection care, it should be taken into account that the mask is one of the measures, but not the only one. “Today, we know that care includes it [máscara], the ventilation of the environment, which is in first place in the worries, the washing of the hands, and the distancing “, underlines the doctor, who is also part of the Working Group (WG) on the return to school of the Fiocruz.

If the presence of the child in a risky environment is essential, the doctor explains that it is preferable, and easier, to handle the other tools instead of putting on a more resistant mask. “Better to get her out of the closed room than to put an N95 / PFF2 mask on the child,” he says.

Without N95 / PFF2, which masks are indicated?

Advocating against one model does not prevent adopting others. For children, Moura recommends masks in lighter and even surgical fabrics. “The hard thing in childhood is to have a mask that fits the height well. Children have a greater variation in size,” he explains.

The most important thing, according to information from the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), is for parents to realize that the mask is snug on the face, covering the nose and mouth, and that there is no no air outlet. sides.

When should the child wear the mask?

The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) recommend that children start using masks from the age of five. The advice is based on safety measures in addition to the child’s ability to properly use the mask with minimal adult assistance.

In the case of the CDC and the Brazilian Pediatric Society, the recommendation is that children from 2 years old can already use the protection. “Everyone advises against the use of masks for children under 2 years old. It is unanimous because of the risk of suffocation”, explains the pediatrician.

For children between the ages of 6 and 11, WHO and UNICEF list some factors that should influence the decision to use masks:

Is there high transmission in the area where the child resides? Is the child able to use the mask safely and correctly? Does the child have access to masks, as well as laundry and replacement of protective items in some places, such as schools? Is there adequate adult supervision and instruction so that the child knows how to safely put on, take off and handle the mask? the potential impacts of mask use on children’s psychosocial learning and development? Does the child interact with people at high risk of developing more severe Covid-19, such as the elderly or people with health problems?

Above 12 years of age, the recommendation to use the article is the same as the adult guidelines.

Exterior without mask?

Regardless of the child’s age – as long as they are over 2 years old – the use of the mask will depend on the family’s risk management. Letting the child play in a park, outside, without a mask for example, may be possible at a time when the virus is transmitted less, as explained by the pediatrician and hygienist.

“Outdoors, the transmission of Covid-19 is weaker. But what is the risk map at that time, in this town where the child is? If we have low transmission, the child may be left without a mask. pandemic, nor in the external space one can not do without the mask, because one still has a low rate of vaccination “, explains the specialist.

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