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Long COVID affects nearly 6% of kids who went to E.R. with COVID-19, study shows

By HealthDay News
Nearly 6% of children who went to emergency departments with COVID-19 still had symptoms 90 days later, a recent study showed. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI
Nearly 6% of children who went to emergency departments with COVID-19 still had symptoms 90 days later, a recent study showed. File Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

Though adults are more likely to suffer long COVID, kids aren't immune to the fatigue, weakness, coughing and breathing problems that can persist months after their initial infection.

Nearly 6% of children who went to emergency departments with COVID-19 still had symptoms 90 days later, according to a study of 1,884 kids in eight countries. That included 10% of kids who were hospitalized and 5% who were sent home from the E.R.

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"Our results suggest that appropriate guidance and follow-up are needed, especially for children at high risk for long COVID," said study leader Dr. Stephen Freedman, of the University of Calgary's Cumming School of Medicine in Alberta, Canada.

The risk of long COVID was higher among patients who were 14 or older. It was also higher for kids who arrived at the E.R. with four or more symptoms and were hospitalized for 48 hours or more.

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"Our finding that children who had multiple COVID-19 symptoms initially were at higher risk for long COVID is consistent with studies in adults," said study co-leader Dr. Todd Florin, an attending physician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and associate professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. "Unfortunately, there are no known therapies for long COVID in children and more research is needed in this area."

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If symptoms are significant, he added, treatment targeting them is most important.

"Multidisciplinary care is warranted if symptoms are impacting quality of life," Florin said in a hospital news release.

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Reported rates of long COVID in adults are substantially higher than what the study found in kids, said study co-leader Dr. Nathan Kuppermann, a professor of emergency medicine and pediatrics at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine.

"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," he said.

The findings were published recently in the journal JAMA Network Open.

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More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on long COVID.

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