Birthday cake with candles spelling Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday, Risks!

Angie Szumlinski Health, Studies

Happy birthday to you but before you celebrate you might want to read a study published in JAMA Network! The question raised: is there an association between household birthdays, which likely correspond to informal social gatherings and COVID-19 infection? Large gatherings of people and small social gatherings are thought to be an important source of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. Although it is well known that the virus spreads primarily through person-to-person contact, estimating the risk of small gatherings is challenging.

The researchers studied changes in household COVID-19 infection rates after the presence of a birthday in the home. Using administrative health care data on 2.9 million households, with information on birthdays and COVID-19 diagnoses for each household member, the study found that the presence of a birthday within a household was associated with significantly greater COVID-19 diagnosis rates in those households in the 2 weeks after birthdays.

Is it the young children who seem to carry the virus, free of symptoms? Is it blowing out the candles? Is it just being in a confined space with a small group of people? Honestly, no one really knows, what we do know is that vaccines work and until children under 12 years of age are able to be vaccinated, we stay vigilant, don’t assume you are completely free of risk and of course, enjoy your birthday OUTDOORS! Stay well, stay informed, and stay tuned!