How widespread and severe is long COVID in children?

How widespread and severe is long COVID in children? ...

COVID-19 is risky for children because very few children have been vaccinated, and other measures to reduce the spread have been implemented inconsistent or none at all in schools across the world.

The United States has reported nearly 13.7 million child COVID-19 cases as of June 23, 2022, with 18.8% of all cases. Child cases are also significantly more prevalent than they were a year ago with over 67,608 new cases in the week ending June 23rd/23rd/24th.

After getting SARS-CoV-2, some individuals go on to develop long COVID or a variety of symptoms that last at least two months and cannot be explained by other causes. However, until now, few studies have investigated long COVID in children.

Further study on the effects of COVID-19 on children might inform public health practices.

Researchers examined national healthcare data from Denmark to understand the high risk of COVID among children aged 0 to 14.

Children who contracted SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, were more likely to recover and have long-lasting symptoms, according to the researchers.

The investigation was published in The Lancet.

COVID in kids is long.

The researchers used the Long COVIDKidsDK survey, a national cross-sectional study that included children and adolescents who had been diagnosed with COVID-19 alongside undiagnosed controls of the same age and sex.

Data from 10,977 children aged 0-14 years old who tested positive for a SARS-CoV-2 infection were examined by the researchers. 33,016 controls

Between January 2020 and July 2021, data was collected that included parental surveys on quality of life, somatic symptoms, and the 23 most common COVID-19 symptoms.

Researchers concluded that children who had contracted SARS-CoV-2 were more likely than controls to have symptoms lasting more than two months after examining the data.

40% of children diagnosed with COVID-19 or 478 of 1,194 children experienced symptoms lasting longer than two months, compared to 27% of controls or 1,049 of 3,855 children.

The same was true for 38% of children aged 4 to 11 years old who contracted COVID-19, compared to 34% of controls, and 46% of those aged 12 to 14 years old, compared to 41% of controls.

The most common signs of illness among children

Different age groups reported different long COVID symptoms. The most common symptoms among the 0-3 age group were:

  • mood swings
  • rashes
  • stomach aches
  • cough
  • loss of appetite

The most common symptoms among people aged 4 to 11 were:

  • mood swings
  • trouble remembering or concentrating
  • rashes

The most common symptoms for those aged 12 to 14 were:

  • fatigue
  • mood swings
  • trouble remembering or concentrating

Researchers also noted that those who were 4-14 years old who contracted SARS-CoV-2 reported better quality-of-life scores than those who were treated. This may have resulted from a decreased fear of the unknown.

Mechanisms that are underpinning everything

Dr. Stephen E. Hawes, professor and chair of the University of Washington's Epidemiology department who was not involved in the study, told Medical News Today that further investigation is required to uncover risk factors for youngsters.

According to him, a number of factors have been identified as risk factors for long COVID in adults, including a high viral load of coronavirus RNA, the presence of specific autoantibodies, and Type 2 diabetes.

This paper demonstrates that all individuals, regardless of age, are at a reasonable risk of long-term COVID. [C]hildren may have different longer-term manifestations of COVID, depending on their developmental stage, and the risk factors for the development of long COVID are less clear. Dr. Stephen E. Hawes

Dr. Mark Hicar, an associate professor at the University of Buffalo's Department of Pediatrics, who was also not involved in the study, agreed that the reasons for some youngsters developing long COVID are still unknown.

After acute COVID, siblings and even twins have developed different reactions, including variation in MIS-C cases. Even acute infections (COVID-19 or otherwise) may affect individuals in the same family differently.

In addition to the amount/area of inoculation, genetics, nutritional status, and previous infections or co-infections, factors may play a role in influencing the presentation of an illness. Dr. Mark Hicar

Rare immune disturbances have been identified in other postviral conditions, but the majority of them are currently unreported, according to the researcher.

The researchers concluded that further investigation is required to understand how long COVID lasts in children.

Future health challenges and next steps

Selina Kikkenborg Berg, study co-author and clinical professor at the University of Copenhagen Department of Medicine, commented on the study's limitations.

Prof. Berg cautioned that the lengthy COVID symptoms list used might not include symptoms that developed later in the epidemic.

Dr. Hawes cautioned that the results of the research may be influenced by a biased recall of events as a retrospective observational study.

MNT asked Dr. Alison L. Miller, an adjunct professor at the University of Michigan School of Public Health, what these findings might suggest for future healthcare strategies.

Dr. Miller said that the documents illustrate the necessity of coordinating care across daycares, schools, medical facilities, and housing in order to ensure that children flourish in healthy environments.

Schools and day care are critical areas for intervention, as they often see problems emerging earlier than pediatricians and can assist families. Children who had COVID missed more school and day care than controls, and we know teachers are overwhelmed with addressing their needs.

We can provide a better safety net by connecting care across systems and also supporting the individuals who work within those systems, according to the speaker. Children can flourish as productive adults by developing into healthy adults.

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