Covid latest: Children who suffer four symptoms could develop long Covid, warns study

Long Covid: Dr Sara Kayat discusses impact on children

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Most people take a few weeks to recover from Covid. But if any of the symptoms persist for longer this is known as long Covid. It can result in constant fatigue, shortness of breath and problems with memory alongside other issues.

A study conducted by a team from universities in Canada and the US found that children who displayed at least four symptoms when first contracting the disease were more likely to then develop long Covid.

It reported the most common symptoms as a cough, fatigue or weakness, and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath.

Lead investigator and associate professor of medicine at the Cumming School of Medicine, Dr Stephen Freedman, said: “We found that in some children, illness with COVID-19 is associated with reporting persistent symptoms after three months.

“Our results suggest that appropriate guidance and followup are needed, especially for children at high risk for long Covid.”

The study tracked 1,884 children from across eight countries over a 90 day period, sometime between March 2020 and January 2021.

Long Covid was found in nearly 10 percent of hospitalised children and five percent of children discharged from the emergency department.

Co-principal investigator Dr Todd Florin – from the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine – explained: “Our finding that children who had multiple COVID-19 symptoms initially were at higher risk for long Covid is consistent with studies in adults.

“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.”

The research also showed an initial hospitalisation of 48 or more hours and being aged 14 years or older meant the child was more likely to develop long Covid.

Co-principal investigator, Dr. Nathan Kuppermann – from the University of California – added: “Reported rates of long Covid in adults are substantially higher than what we found in children.

“Our findings can inform public health policy decision regarding COVID-19 mitigation strategies for children and screening approaches for long Covid among those with severe outcomes.”

According to the Office for National Statistics, around 1.8 million people in the UK were living with long Covid as of April this year.

Of those, 346,000 (19 percent) reported that their ability to undertake their day-to-day activities had been “limited a lot”.

Fatigue was reported as the most common symptom of long Covid – with 51 percent of people experiencing it.

While 33 percent reported shortness of breath, 26 percent reported loss of sense of smell and 23 per cent reported difficulty concentrating.

The NHS lists other common signs of long Covid as:

  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness
  • Pins and needles
  • Joint pain
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Tinnitus, earaches
  • Feeling sick, diarrhoea, stomach aches, loss of appetite
  • A high temperature, headaches, sore throat
  • Rashes.

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