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Children at similar risk for Long Covid as adults, study suggests

A large study today from Germany shows that children and adolescents are at the same relative risk of experiencing COVID-19 symptoms 90 days or more after acute infection as adults are, according to findings in PLOS Medicine.

Though kids and adolescents have far fewer deaths or severe outcomes from COVID-19 infections compared to adults, little is known about Long or post-Covid symptoms in this age-group, or symptoms that persist for more than 12 weeks after acute infection.

Researchers from the Technical University of Dresden, Germany, used data from half of the German population to determine that kids and adults have the same relative risk of experiencing post-Covid symptoms at 90 days following infection.

Martin Roessler, the lead author of the study, said there were significant symptom overlap among kids and adults who experienced symptoms 90 days or more after acute infection.

"We found 5 identical outcomes among the 10 outcomes with the highest relative risk among children/adolescents and adults. These symptoms are cough, fever, headache, malaise/fatigue/exhaustion, throat or chest pain," he told CIDRAP News.

Other symptoms were more commonly seen in adults, but not kids. Those included a loss of taste or smell, fever, and shortness of breath.

Daniel Blatt, MD, a pediatric infectious disease physician at the post-COVID clinic at Norton Children's Hospital in Louisville, Kentucky, said he was not surprised by the study's findings.

"It's unclear if Long Covid is the same in children and adults, in terms of pathophysiology, but it's just as real," he said. Blatt, who was not involved in the study, said his clinic also collects data on children and Long Covid. He said the most common symptoms reported in his patients are fatigue, anxiety, and "brain fog," followed by some shortness of breath or muscle pain.

"The good news is kids tend to get better, regardless of what intervention is needed," Blatt said. As in adult Long Covid, there's no one-size-fits-all approach for pediatric Long Covid patients. "Some need reassurance; some need a graduated exercise program."

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Source: CIDRAP, 10 November 2022


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