#1. N95 masks may not offer better protection than regular face masks
|Protects against respiratory infections transmitted via droplet spread
||Protects against infections transmitted via airborne spread
|Possible face-seal leaks
||Better seal with less inward leak of any environmental particles
||Filters smaller particles
However, in a clinical setting, it has been shown that the N95 face masks may not offer superior protection over regular face masks against acute transmissible respiratory infections, especially those transmitted via droplet spread.
#2. Face masks may not be suitable for younger children
- Face masks are only effective if:
- The top of the mask is moulded over the bridge of the nose.
- The bottom of the mask covers the chin.
- The mask is clean and dry.
- In young children who are uncomfortable with face masks, struggling and touching of the face will make the mask ineffective.
#3. Face masks, especially the N95, may not be safe for younger children
- Face masks are generally not recommended in children below the age of 3 as they can increase the resistance to breathing and cause hypoventilation.
- There are a select few paediatric N95 masks made for children aged 7 – 12.
- Most N95 masks are suitable only in children above the age of 12.
#4. Some older children may benefit from the use of face masks
- Older children who are more susceptible to infections and their complications, such as those with chronic respiratory conditions, significant heart disease, progressive neurological conditions, or are immunosuppressed, should wear face masks to protect themselves.
#5. Medical evidence shows that these precautions may be more useful
- Teach your children good hand-washing techniques using soap and water.
- Assist your toddlers with washing their hands.
- Teach your children good hygiene etiquette eg. sneeze and cough into tissue paper. Soiled tissues should be disposed of and hands washed.
- Avoid bringing young children and infants to confined and crowded places eg. shopping malls.
With the ongoing spread of the novel coronavirus, it is important to take necessary steps to prevent yourself from falling ill.
Always see a doctor if you think you or your family member is falling ill.
Article contributed by Dr Mohana Rajakulendran, paediatrician at Parkway East Hospital