Long COVID found in children and infants, study shows

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More than 13.6 million U.S. children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began

More than 13.6 million U.S. children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Researchers in Denmark studied a cohort of these children to see if they, like adults, develop long COVID, also called post-COVID-19 condition or post-COVID-19 syndrome.

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Because many symptoms of long COVID — headache, stomach ache, fatigue, moodiness — are similar to what many children experience normally, the researchers looked at the duration of these symptoms.

The World Health Organization defines long COVID in adults as “persistent or fluctuating symptoms with an influence on daily functioning following SARS-CoV-2 infection for at least 2 months that cannot be explained by an alternative diagnosis.” A duration of 12 weeks has also been suggested, the researchers wrote.

The children who had COVID were compared with a control group of kids who had not been sick. The study found those who had tested positive for the coronavirus were more likely to experience at least one symptom of long COVID for two months or more.

According to the results, children ages 0–3 years experienced mood swings, rashes, stomach aches, cough and loss of appetite. Ages 4–11 had mood swings, trouble remembering or concentrating, and rashes; and among those 12–14, fatigue, mood swings and trouble remembering or concentrating were the most common symptoms.

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“It’s become clear that this isn’t an isolated phenomenon. It’s showing up in studies in more than one country. It’s happening in more kids than maybe we originally thought,” Dr. Amy Edwards, a pediatric infectious disease specialist who manages the long Covid clinic at UH Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital in Cleveland, told CNN. “We’re talking about not small numbers of children when you think of how many Covid cases there have been. So just continuing to get the word out there matters.”

The study was published Wednesday in the journal the Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

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