Japanese scientists warn children under 2 should not wear face masks because they could choke and struggle to breathe

Jae C. Hong/AP PhotoCommuters wearing masks stand in a packed train at the Shinagawa Station in Tokyo, Monday, March 2, 2020. Coronavirus has spread to more than 60 countries, and more than 3,000 people have died from the COVID-19 illness it causes.
  • Children under two shouldn’t wear face masks, a medical group in Japan has warned.
  • Masks used to stop the spread of COVID-19 risk making babies choke and struggle to breath, it said.
  • The Japan Pediatric Association said: ‘Masks can make breathing difficult because infants have narrow air passages.’
  • The warning comes as governments around the world urge their citizens to wear facemasks to reduce the transmission of coronavirus.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Face masks are too dangerous for young children to wear, a Japanese medical group has warned, as governments around the world begin advising their citizens to wear facemasks to combat the spread of the coronavirus.

The Japan Pediatric Association has warned that children under two years old shouldn’t wear face coverings because they can make breathing difficult and increase the risk of choking, Reuters reported on Tuesday.

“Masks can make breathing difficult because infants have narrow air passages,” the group said in a statement.

“Let’s stop the use of masks for children under 2-years-old.”

The Japan Pediatric Association said that breathing difficulties would increase the burden on their hearts and that masks would also increase the risk of heatstroke.

It said that that very few serious coronavirus cases among children had been reported and that most of those children were infected by family members, rather than in environments where a mask would offer protection, like schools or daycare centres.

Tokyo Japan coronavirusCarl Court/Getty ImagesCommuters pass through Shinagawa train station the day after Japans state of emergency was fully lifted, on May 26, 2020 in Tokyo, Japan.

Public health agencies around the world are advising that wearing facemasks could help as an additional measure in combating the coronavirus, along with other measures such as social distancing practices and hand-washing.

The US Centres for Disease Control, which is responsible for public health messaging on the COVID-19 virus, said in April that “cloth face coverings fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost can be used as an additional, voluntary public health measure.”

In the UK, Boris Johnson’s government is currently advising people to wear face coverings in enclosed spaces in public where social distancing is not always possible, like on public transport and in supermarkets.

In Asia, since the 2002 SARS outbreak, many commuters wear masks on a daily basis to slow the spread of viral infections.

Japan lifted a state of emergency across Tokyo and four other areas where it was still imposed on Monday.

The country has been praised for its response to the coronavirus pandemic, and has recorded a relatively low 830 deaths, according to John Hopkins University.

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