A new study revealed that while long COVID was relatively rare in children, it was still prevalent in hospitalized adolescents, who were over the age of 14.
The study, recently published in JAMA Network Open, is one of the largest to ever investigate the lingering effects of COVID-19 in children, with more than 2,000 of them tracked for at least 90 days beyond the initial Covid infection.
Per the findings, 9.8% of children that were hospitalized with COVID-19 displayed some lingering symptoms for up to three months later. Meanwhile, that rate dropped to 4.6% for non-hospitalized children. An initial hospitalization of 48 or more hours and four or more symptoms at the initial ED visit were also associated with long COVID.
“We found that in some children, illness with COVID-19 is associated with reporting persistent symptoms after 3 months. Our result suggest that appropriate guidance and follow-up are needed, especially for children at high risk for long COVID,” said principal investigator Stephen Freedman with the Cumming School of Medicine at University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services.
“Reported rates of long COVID in adults are substantially higher than what we found in children . Our findings can inform public health policy decisions regarding COVID-19 mitigation strategies for children and screening approaches for long COVID among those with severe infections,” added co-principal investigator Nathan Kuppermann from University of California, Davis School of Medicine, Sacramento.
According to the study findings, the most reported persistent symptoms in children included cough, weakness or fatigue, and difficulty in breathing or shortness of breath.
But exactly why older children seem more likely to develop long COVID compared to younger children is still unclear. One hypothesis suggests older children are more likely to be able to verbalize specific symptoms compared to young children.
While the findings of the study is somewhat good news for parents, it still indicates that for a small minority of young people, the persistent condition is still a problem.
To that end, experts suggest multidisciplinary care if the symptoms start impacting the quality of life. Of course, preventing Covid in the first place is still the ideal course of action.