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What are the risks of long Covid in children?

According to a new study led by the University of Calgary, nearly six percent of children who presented to the Emergency Department (ED) with Covid-19 reported symptoms three months later. The experts found that initial hospitalization of two or more days, four or more symptoms at the initial ED visit, and age 14 or older were associated with higher risk of developing long Covid.

“We found that in some children, illness with Covid-19 is associated with reporting persistent symptoms after three months,” said study senior author Stephen Freedman, a professor of Emergency Medicine at the University of Calgary. “Our results suggest that appropriate guidance and follow-up are needed, especially for children at high risk for long Covid.”

The study included 1,884 children with Covid-19, who were followed-up for 90 days. Long Covid was found in almost ten percent of hospitalized children and five percent in those who were discharged from the ED. The most reported symptoms were fatigue, cough, and shortness of breath.

“Reported rates of long Covid in adults are substantially higher than what we found in children,” said study co-author Nathan Kuppermann, a professor of Emergency Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of California, Davis. “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.”

“Our finding that children who had multiple Covid-19 symptoms initially were at higher risk for long Covid is consistent with studies in adults,” added study co-author Todd Florin, an attending physician at Lurie Children’s Hospital and associate professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University

“Unfortunately, there are no known therapies for long COVID in children and more research is needed in this area. However, if symptoms are significant, treatment targeting the symptoms is most important. Multidisciplinary care is warranted if symptoms are impacting quality of life,” he concluded.

The study is published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

By Andrei Ionescu, Staff Writer  

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