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Socio-economic and ethnic background have been discussed as possible risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infections in children. Improved knowledge could lead to tailored prevention strategies and help improve infection control.


We aimed to identify risk factors for SARS-CoV-2 infections in children in the first and second wave of the pandemic.


We performed an observational population-based cohort study in children (6 months–18 years) scheduled for legally required preventive examination and their parents in a metropolitan region in Germany. Primary endpoint was the SARS-CoV-2 seroconversion rate during the study period. Risk factors assessed included age, pre-existing medical conditions, socio-economic factors and ethnicity.


We included 2,124 children and their parents. Seroconversion rates among children in all age groups increased 3–4-fold from June 2020 to February 2021. Only 24 of 58 (41%) seropositive children reported symptoms. In 51% of infected children, at least one parent was also SARS-CoV-2-positive. Low level of parental education (OR = 3.13; 95% CI: 0.72–13.69) non-significantly increased the risk of infection. Of the total cohort, 38.5% had a migration background, 9% of Turkish and 5% of Middle Eastern origin, and had the highest risk for SARS-CoV-2 infections (OR = 6.24; 95% CI: 1.38–28.12 and OR = 6.44 (95% CI: 1.14–36.45) after adjustment for other risk factors.


In the second half of 2020, seroprevalence for SARS-CoV-2 in children increased especially in families with lower-socioeconomic status. Culture-sensitive approaches are essential to limit transmission and could serve as a blueprint for vaccination strategies.


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