Even the smallest children can have a long experience of Covid, according to a large study, one of the first of its kind to include infants and toddlers.
The study published Wednesday in the journal The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health included 44,000 children in Denmark aged zero to 14. Among the children, 11,000 had tested positive for Covid-19 between January 2020 and July 2021.
While the symptoms associated with long Covid are general ailments children can experience even without Covid – headaches, mood swings, stomach issues and fatigue – the children in the study who had previously tested positive for Covid were more likely to experience at least one symptom for two months or more than children who never tested positive for Covid.
The study also found that a third of children who tested positive for Covid had at least one long-term symptom that was not present before testing positive.
The most common symptoms varied by age. For children up to the age of 3, these included mood swings, rashes and upset stomachs. Children aged 4 to 11 also had problems with memory and concentration. For 12 to 14 year olds, it was memory and concentration problems, mood swings and fatigue.
Children aged 3 and under seemed to have the most problems compared to children not diagnosed with Covid-19 – 40% showed symptoms two months after testing positive compared to 27% in the group who did not have Covid.
“Our findings align with previous studies on long Covid and adolescents showing that although the odds of children experiencing long Covid is low, particularly compared to the control group, it should be recognized and treated seriously. “said Selina Kikkenborg Berg, co-author of the study. , Professor of Cardiology at the Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark.
It is still unclear how many children have Covid for how long and for how long, as there is not enough research on this in this age group, some experts say.
A 2021 study suggested that more than half of children aged 6 to 16 had at least one symptom that lasted longer than four months.
In adults, some research puts the number at around 30% of cases.
There are no specific tests for long Covid. It is unclear which children will have it, as it can happen even when a child has a mild case of Covid-19.
Besides showing scientists the characteristics of long Covid in children, the study also showed that even children who did not contract Covid felt the impact of the pandemic. This group reported slightly more psychological and social problems than children who had Covid.
Dr Michael Absoud, a pediatrician specializing in neurodevelopmental issues who did not work on the study, told the Science Media Center in the UK that he found the fact intriguing.
“The most striking finding of this study is the better quality of life and lower anxiety scores in older children who had tested positive for Covid-19. This confirms once again that although fortunately , children are resisting the direct impacts of Covid, they have been significantly affected by the indirect impacts of the pandemic (school closures, repeated quarantines and reduced therapies) and anxiety-provoking media messages It is likely that society has under- estimated the longer-term impact of the disruption of the pandemic rather than the virus on all children, and the urgent need to restore health and welfare services,” Absoud said.
“Nevertheless, it is still important to identify the small proportion of children who take longer to recover from COVID, while supporting all children with persistent symptoms, whatever the cause,” he said. -he adds.
Dr. Amy Edwards, a pediatric infectious disease specialist who runs the long-running Covid Clinic at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, did not work on the study, but said the work was important because it is further evidence that some children develop long Covid.
She said she still regularly encounters people who don’t believe such a thing exists.
“There is an ongoing debate both in the medical world and in society, whether all these children are complaining of headaches and anxiety and stomach aches and pains and dizziness to know if it’s about covid or pandemic stress. Yes, the pandemic has affected children negatively, but then you add Covid on top of that, and you see there’s really something going on here,” Edwards said.
Acknowledging that long Covid can be a problem may encourage more parents to vaccinate their children so they don’t get long Covid in the first place. Studies like this can also encourage parents to be on the lookout for symptoms, so they can get the child’s help if they need it.
“It has become clear that this is not an isolated phenomenon. It appears in studies in more than one country. It happens in more children than we may have originally thought,” Edwards said. “We’re not talking about a small number of children when you think of how many Covid cases there have been. So just keep spreading the word out there.
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