Chronic COVID in Children: Symptoms, Risk Factors, Prevention

BILLIONthis is many outstanding questions about Long COVID. How many people have it? Why do some develop it and not others? Do effective treatments exist??

When it comes to children and Long COVID, there are even more questions and fewer answers. Until the beginning of this year, professionals even achieved a consensus definition for long COVID in children for research use: one or more symptoms persist for at least 12 weeks after COVID-19 infection, interfere with daily life and cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis.

Dr Kathryn Moffett, who is co-leading a study at West Virginia University School of Medicine, said: “There’s a lot we’re trying to figure out to better understand how many children get COVID long and at star. “More studies are done in adults, but we need answers in children.”

Here’s what researchers know so far.

How common is long-term COVID in children?

Studies have produced varying estimates of the number of children who develop Long COVID. But a June research review published year Scientific reportsbased on 21 previously published studies, concluded that about 25% of children and adolescents with COVID-19 had symptoms lasting at least four weeks – on par with reported One in five US adults now have long-lasting COVID symptoms after infection. However, individual studies vary depending on how they are designed and determined for long-term COVID, whether children have been vaccinated, and other factors.

Research published August 12 in the magazine Department of Pediatrics reached the same conclusion when considering hundreds of unvaccinated and sufficiently ill children hospitalized with acute COVID-19 or MIS-C, a Inflammation associated with COVID-19. About 25% experience ongoing health problems two to four months later.

“The message is, ‘Children, if they get it [COVID-19], will be fine,” said study co-author Dr Adrienne Randolph, a critical care specialist at Children’s Hospital Boston. “Yes, most of them. But if your child has a severe case of COVID-19, they are at risk for symptoms months later.”

Randolph’s study looked specifically at unvaccinated children who became ill enough to require hospitalization — a rare outcome for children with COVID-19 — so it was not possible to extend the findings to all children. em. In addition, under the pressure of the pandemic, symptoms such as fatigue and headaches have become widespread, and not all studies have been able to show a long-term COVID association compared with other studies. another factor, Randolph said.

For example, a Dane research published year Lancet Child & Adolescent Health in June looked at infants to 14-year-olds who tested positive for COVID-19 but were not necessarily hospitalized and compared them to children of a similar age who did not test positive. count. Children infected with COVID-19 are more likely to report persistent symptoms such as rashes, difficulty concentratingand mood swings — but not much. For example, among children ages 4 to 11, 38% of those who had COVID-19 had symptoms that lasted more than two months, compared with 34% of those without COVID-19. The study authors note that “prolonged COVID symptoms are similar to some common childhood illnesses,” which can make it difficult to study the disease.

What are the symptoms of long-term COVID in children?

The Scientific reports Research review found that the three most common Long COVID symptoms in children were mood problems, fatigue, and sleep disturbances. But the reported symptoms spanned the entire period, from inability to exercise and memory loss to stuffy noses and headaches.

August Report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reviewed the health records of a large group of children ages 0 to 17 — more than 780,000 who had COVID-19 and more than 2.3 million who did not. get sick — March 2020 to January 2022. Children with previous COVID-19 infections are more likely to report later symptoms including Disorders of smell and taste, circulation problems, discomfort and fatigue, and pain. At the end of the study period, children with COVID-19 were also more likely to develop cardiovascular problems, kidney failure, and diabetes, but those conditions were rare in both groups.

What are the risk factors for long-term COVID in children?

Researchers are still trying to answer that question, but there are some clues. A Russian study published in European Respiratory Journal found that children with allergic conditions – including asthma, eczema and food allergies – and those hospitalized for COVID-19 were more likely to have long-lasting symptoms than children who were hospitalized without these symptoms. This situation. The Scientific reports The study review also listed older age, female sex, obesity, and existing conditions as potential risk factors. According to the article, children with severe illness appear to be more likely to develop long-term COVID than children with mild illness.

How can children avoid long COVID?

The only guaranteed way to avoid Long COVID is not to get infected in the first place. Immunization also reduces the risk of developing long-term COVID after infection, although it is unclear to what extent. Still, Moffett says it should be an incentive for parents who are hesitant about vaccinating their children. As of August 10, only about 30% of U.S. children ages 5 to 11 are fully immunized, according to CDC data. This number is even lower for the youngest children; a Kaiser . Family Foundation analysis Government data shows that as of July 20, less than 3% of children under the age of 5 had received at least one dose.

If a child is infected, Emerging evidence suggests that they should rest as much as possible in the hope of preventing complications. Children who already have Long COVID can also benefit from more rest and reduced activity, as advocates from the chronic illness groups #MEAction and the Long COVID Family describe in a new guide.

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