Fewer than 1 in 10 children infected with coronavirus experience ‘long-term Covid’ symptoms more than three months later, study shows
Very few children and teens infected with COVID-19 have long-term symptoms, a new study suggests.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, looked at more than 5,000 young people under the age of 18 who had contracted the virus.
They found that less than one in ten children battled the so-called ‘long Covid’ three to five months after the first positive test.
Only 15 percent developed symptoms at some point during their infection, with most symptoms clearing up within 30 days.
The team says the findings suggest that Covid is not nearly as worrisome in minors as it is in adults.
A new study looked at more than 5,000 children and teens who tested positive for COVID-19 between March 2020 and April 2021 (file image)
The study found that 14.8% of children had symptoms between 14 and 30 days after a positive test, falling to 7.2% with symptoms three months or later
Lung Covid appears in patients who have recovered from the virus and continue to have symptoms for weeks, or possibly months or years, after the infection has cleared.
There is a wide range of symptoms that can occur, including persistent loss of taste and smell, prolonged fatigue, and long-term sensory problems.
The causes of the condition remain unknown and several studies are being conducted to explore its long-term effects.
Some theories as to what causes long-term Covid include patients with persistently low levels of the virus or damage COVID-19 causes to nerve pathways.
A recent joint study between the UK and the US found that about a third of patients will experience Covid for a long time.
However, the estimates for children are much lower.
dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, previously estimated that between two percent and three percent of children suffer from long-term Covid.
Most children who contract COVID-19 have mild cases or are asymptomatic and do not tend to become seriously ill or die.
For the new study, published on pre-print server medRxiv.org, the team looked at 5,058 children and teens between the ages of five and 18.
They all contracted Covid and were treated with two undisclosed health care systems in New England between March 2020 and April 2021.
The participants were followed up monthly and for up to five months after their first positive tests.
During the acute infection period, between 14 and 30 days after the initial illness, 14.8 percent experienced symptoms.
This percentage dropped to just 7.2 percent with long-lasting symptoms more than three months later.
The most common symptoms were headache and anxiety, each with 2.4 percent of patients reporting these conditions.
Rounding out the top five were cognition (2.3 percent), fatigue (1.1 percent) and sleep problems (0.6 percent).
Older children, girls and Hispanics were most likely to have long-lasting symptoms, and researchers say more studies need to be conducted to determine why this is the case.
“As for Covid, our study suggests that the risk for children is lower than some previous studies would have suggested,” study co-author Dr Roy Perlis, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, told UPI.
“I hope we can give parents some reassurance about the risk of Covid being low for a long time.”