To investigate differences in viral shedding in respiratory and fecal samples from children with COVID-19.
We searched PubMed, SCOPUS, Embase and Web of Science databases to identify pediatric studies comparing the pattern of fecal and respiratory shedding of SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Summary estimates were calculated using random-effects models.
Four studies reporting data from 36 children were included. A higher proportion of children had viral shedding in stools after 14 days of symptoms onset compared to respiratory samples (RR= 3.2, 95%CI 1.2 to 8.9, I2 = 51%). Viral RNA shedding was longer in fecal samples with a mean difference of approximately 9 days (Mean Difference = 8.6, 95%CI 1.7 to 15.4, I2 = 77%) compared with respiratory samples.
SARS-CoV-2 shedding seems to be present in feces for a longer time than in the respiratory tract of children. Although fecal SARS-CoV-2 presence in feces do not confirm its transmissibility, the high and fast spread of the COVID-19 disease worldwide indicate other transmission routes are also plausible.