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Researchers find rarity of long Covid in children

Only one child was found to have met conditions of long-term Covid explained by World Health Organization

By Web Desk
September 19, 2023
Children while attending school can be seen in this picture as a girl looks on wearing a mask. — AFP/File
Children while attending school can be seen in this picture as a girl looks on wearing a mask. — AFP/File

Covid-19 can have long-term complications in a number of people as an estimated 10% of those infected experience health difficulties even after recovering from the coronavirus.

This has raised alarm for children if they contract the virus and the long-term impact on their health however, a new study has made a crucial discovery suggesting that not all the kids may develop this long Covid.

According to the study published in Jama Paediatrics, long Covid is incredibly rare in children.

For the research, experts analysed data from 1,026 children with a mean age of 10.5 years and suggested parents to observe the symptoms every two weeks for 76 weeks.

Children who experienced a positive PCR test for a Covid-19 infection, new symptoms that started three months after a positive PCR test for the virus, and signs that lasted for at least eight weeks after they started were considered to have long-Covid.

If four weeks without symptoms passed, then they were considered resolved.

After having Covid-19, the common signs included a sore throat (68%), stuffy nose (62%), headache (52%), cough (42%), fever (42%) and fatigue (35%).

On the other hand, researchers discovered that these symptoms started to become better within 10 weeks after a positive PCR test.

In the research, only one child was found to have met the conditions of long Covid explained by the World Health Organization.

For having long Covid, the symptoms must last for two months after the initial infection, according to WHO.

Researchers in their study maintained that long Covid numbers were "strikingly low" in the children, noting that "most children experienced a resolution of symptoms within two weeks of infection."

Dr William Schaffner, infectious disease specialist and professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells Yahoo Life, said: "The symptoms these children had were also relatively minor compared to the spectrum of symptoms of long Covid in adults."

"Those can include brain fog, aches and pains, and a real inability to be able to function in society."

Infectious disease expert Dr Amesh A Adalja told Yahoo Life that "it's been clear for some time that long Covid is not a very common occurrence in children."

According to Schaffner, this doesn't mean that families shouldn't take precautions against Covid-19. He emphasised the importance of getting kids the new updated Covid-19 vaccine. 

"We know that vaccination not only prevents severe Covid, it contributes to a reduction in long Covid," he stated.

"I wouldn't allow this one study all by itself to discourage you from vaccinating your children."

Adalja also told parents to monitor their children's symptoms after they recover from the disease, if they happen to get the virus.

"If a child does experience symptoms three months after recovery, [you] can try and make an appointment with a long Covid clinic," he says. But Adalja says this isn't something most parents will need to worry about.

"Parents should be reassured that long Covid, while a societal problem, [is] not a very major pediatric problem," noted.