As COVID-19 communities, children have often been spared the worst impacts of the disease. But the specter of the prolonged development of COVID in children is forcing researchers to reconsider the cost of the pandemic for the very young.
There are already symptoms of prolonged COVID in children
Most people who survive COVID-19 make a full recovery. But for some, the little-known condition known as prolonged COVID can last for months, maybe even years. Nobody knows yet.
The condition was first described in adults. But several studies have now reported a similar phenomenon, including symptoms such as headaches, fatigue, and heart palpitations, in children, although they rarely experience severe initial COVID-19 symptoms.
Estimates of the duration of COVID in children vary greatly
Data released by the UK Office for National Statistics (ONS) in February and updated in April also raised concerns. They showed that 9.8% of children ages 2 to 11 and 13% of children 12 to 16 years reported at least one persistent symptom five weeks after a positive diagnosis.
Another report published in April found that a quarter of children surveyed after being discharged from the hospital in Russia after COVID-19 had symptoms more than five months later.
Severe COVID-19 in children is much rarer
The reported figures are not as high as those for adults. Data from the ONS, for example, shows that about 25% of people ages 35 to 69 had symptoms at 5 weeks. But the numbers still sounded the alarms, because severe COVID-19 in children is much rarer than in adults and therefore it was assumed that most children had been spared the impacts of prolonged COVID, says Jakob Armann, a pediatrician at the Dresden University of Technology. in Germany.
If 10% or 15% of children, regardless of the initial severity of the disease, have long-term symptoms, after all, “that’s a real problem,” he says, “so it needs to be studied.”
What Causes Prolonged COVID-19?
Experts don’t yet know what causes some children to have long-term COVID-19 symptoms. While it is clear that certain risk factors (such as obesity and other underlying diseases) can put someone at risk for serious illness from COVID-19. There is no clear link between these conditions and the long-term symptoms of COVID-19. Long-term COVID-19 symptoms could still occur in children who had mild or no symptoms of COVID-19
Long-term symptoms of COVID-19 in children
Experts at King’s College London used data provided by caregivers of 1,734 children between the ages of 5 and 17 to track the most common long-term symptoms in children. From September 2020 to February 2021, the most common symptoms included:
- Fatigue (55%)
- Fever in children 5 to 11 years old (43.7%)
- Headache (62.2%)
- Sore throat in children 12 to 17 years old (51%)
Of the children in this study, 37 went to the hospital for care, but the data did not list any deaths. The experts also found that older children (ages 12 to 17) were more likely to have prolonged COVID-19 symptoms than younger children (ages 5 to 11).
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