(KRON) — Infants six months and younger are being hospitalized with COVID-19 at higher rates than previously during the pandemic, according to a new CDC report. KRON4 spoke with a Stanford health pediatric pulmonary specialist about what parents need to know.

There is a new CDC report on COVID-19-associated hospitalization rates of infants six months and younger. The report focuses on COVID-19 and the subsequent variants, delta and omicron, during the pandemic among infants too young to be immunized against the virus.

Dr. David Cornfield, a pediatric pulmonologist at Stanford Children’s Health, told KRON4, “The observation that’s getting a lot of attention is that in the most recent viral variant there was an increased incidence of hospitalization.”

Dr. Cornfield spoke to KRON4 about the medical significance of the report’s findings. He says, “The relative severity of the disease has not increased. So, while there were more kids hospitalized, those kids needing higher levels of support – ICU care, mechanical ventilation, that percentage of children was not increased over the prior two variants that were analyzed.”

Dr. Cornfield says one probable explanation for these results is mothers being vaccinated. “There is probably some component of passive immunity that moms who have been immunized give to their children.”

He says the increase in children six months and younger being hospitalized for COVID likely boils down to the relaxing of pandemic-related social norms in the community. He told KRON4, “People are not so socially isolated any longer and we’re interacting more, and most people have, across our country, have really discarded the idea of using masks.”

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Is it safe for the pregnant mom or the parent of an infant child to attend the upcoming holiday gatherings? Dr. Cornfield says, “I do think that it’s okay to feel safe to celebrate with your family, recognizing that the overwhelming majority of kids who are less than six months old do not get COVID.”