Age is the most important determinant of COVID-19 severity. Infectious disease severity by age is typically J-shaped, with infants and the elderly carrying a high burden of disease. We report on the comparative disease severity between infants and older children in a multicenter retrospective cohort study of children 0 to 17 year old admitted for acute COVID-19 February 2020 through May 2021 in 17 pediatric hospitals. We compare clinical and laboratory characteristics and estimate the association between age group and disease severity using ordinal logistic regression. We found that infants comprised one third of cases, but were admitted for a shorter period (median 3 days IQR 2-5 versus 4 days IQR 2-7), had a lower likelihood to have an increased C-reactive protein and had half the odds of older children of having severe or critical disease (OR 0.50 (95% Confidence Interval 0.32-0.78)).
Conclusion: When compared to older children, there appeared to be a lower threshold to admit infants but their length of stay is shorter and they have a lower odds than older children of progressing to severe or critical disease.