Af Geijerstam A, Mehlig K, Hunsberger M, Åberg M, Lissner L
BMJ Open 12 (8) e063640 [2022-08-11; online 2022-08-11]
To investigate whether Swedish men living with children had elevated risk for severe COVID-19 or infection with SARS-CoV-2 during the first three waves of the pandemic. Prospective registry-based cohort study. 1 557 061 Swedish men undergoing military conscription between 1968 and 2005 at a mean age of 18.3 (SD 0.73) years. Infection with SARS-CoV-2 and hospitalisation due to COVID-19 from March 2020 to September 2021. There was a protective association between preschool children at home and hospitalisation due to COVID-19 during the first and third waves compared with only older or no children at all, with ORs (95% CIs) 0.63 (0.46 to 0.88) and 0.75 (0.68 to 0.94) respectively. No association was observed for living with children 6-12 years old, but for 13-17 years old, the risk increased. Age in 2020 did not explain these associations. Further adjustment for socioeconomic and health factors did not attenuate the results. Exposure to preschool children also had a protective association with testing positive with SARS-CoV-2, with or without hospitalisation, OR=0.91 (95% CI 0.89 to 0.93), while living with children of other ages was associated with increased odds of infection. Cohabiting with preschool children was associated with reduced risk for severe COVID-19. Living with school-age children between 6 and 12 years had no association with severe COVID-19, but sharing the household with teenagers and young adults was associated with elevated risk. Our results are of special interest since preschools and compulsory schools (age 6-15 years) in Sweden did not close in 2020.