Thursday, October 6, 2022
Home SCIENCE Prolonged COVID in children appears less common than early fears suggested

Prolonged COVID in children appears less common than early fears suggested

Prolonged COVID, the constellation of symptoms that can linger long after an initial coronavirus infection, has been a source of fear among parents during the pandemic. But how often are children affected? Mixed and shifting messages can leave parents both terrified and wildly confused. A consensus is now emerging that prolonged COVID in children is a real risk, but significantly less than some earlier research indicated.

The first fears were justified. Studies at the start of the pandemic reported alarming numbers: One review suggested a prolonged COVID could affect as much as 66 percent of children. But some experts say the early reports included several biases. “I never took the original studies at face value,” says Stephen Freedman, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Calgary in Alberta. “The methodological limitations of those studies were significant and did not fit with what we were seeing clinically.”

A major challenge is that long COVID is poorly defined. Currently the World Health Organization (WHO) describes it as persistent or fluctuating symptoms after infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID, lasting at least two months. In contrast, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define prolonged COVID as symptoms that begin simply four weeks after infection. To complicate matters, long COVID is an umbrella phrase that includes several common symptoms, from fatigue to depression to headaches, that many people experience on a regular basis, regardless of whether they’ve ever had a COVID infection. To account for this confounder, recent studies have included control groups. This has allowed experts to compare children who have had COVID with those who have never been diagnosed, and to assess whether those infected with SARS-CoV-2 experience symptoms beyond those experienced by uninfected people. . In short, do COVID patients really endure more persistent symptoms than COVID avoiders?

One of the first studies to include a control group was a large UK study published in August 2021 in the Lancet Child and Adolescent Health. The team tested 1,734 children who tested positive for COVID at any time and the same number of children who tested negative between September 2020 and February 2021. They found that children who tested positive usually felt better after six days. Additionally, 98.2% of symptomatic children recovered within eight weeks, reassuring that the rate of prolonged COVID symptoms in children is low.

When the team compared children who felt unwell at four weeks (chosen because the numbers were still high enough to make strong statistical comparisons), they found that those who tested negative for COVID actually felt worse and reported more symptoms than those who had tested positive. The authors speculated that children in the negative cohort had other respiratory viruses for which they had not been tested. But it is also possible that the prolonged symptoms were caused by the social effects of the pandemic. “There has been an impact of the pandemic on all children, regardless of infection,” says Emma Duncan, a professor of clinical endocrinology at King’s College London, who worked on the study.

In another study published in the Lancet Child and Adolescent Health In June, researchers in Denmark sent out a nationwide survey to parents of children ages birth to 14 who tested positive or negative for SARS-CoV-2 between January 2020 and July 2021. The children who tested positive on the test were consistently more likely than children who had tested negative to report at least one long COVID symptom two months later-But not by much. Selina Kikkenborg Berg, a senior researcher at the University of Copenhagen and lead author of the study, was surprised to find that so many children in the control group had been suffering even though they had not been infected with COVID.

One possibility is that the uninfected children were struggling emotionally, which could turn into physical ailments. Physical and mental health are often intertwined: for example, depression can manifest as fatigue, both of which are common symptoms of prolonged COVID. The team also assessed the older children’s psychological and social symptoms, only to find that those in the control group felt more frightened, had more difficulty sleeping, and felt more worried than those in the COVID group. Berg suspects that the children in the control group were still living restricted lives, which was causing emotional turmoil.

“At that time, some newspapers were beginning to report on the symptoms of the pandemic: children suffering from the ‘new normal’: the new daily life with lockdowns and social isolation and a world that was afraid of disease,” says Berg. A study published in February in the Lancet Child and Adolescent Health It offered crucial insights into the mental health toll of the pandemic on children, regardless of whether they had been personally infected with SARS-CoV-2. an alarming 40 percent of children surveyed—both those who had COVID three months prior and those who had not—reported feeling worried, sad, or unhappy.

Taken together, many recent studies have found that the odds of children developing long-term COVID are low, and other factors, including different respiratory viruses and the pandemic itself, may be to blame for many long-term COVID-like symptoms. . Although many researchers note that false negatives are possible (in the sense that children who tested negative could still have been infected), they don’t think the numbers were high enough to skew their results. Furthermore, all of these studies were conducted in Europe, where testing was commonplace. For example, in Denmark, where Berg’s team sent out a nationwide survey, children were encouraged to get tested twice a week at school.

However, the good news does not negate the fact that debilitating symptoms of COVID can persist for months in a small percentage of children, likely due to the lingering effects of the infection and the body’s immune response. Even if only a small percentage of children develop prolonged COVID, the sheer number of people infected with SARS-CoV-2 means that a significant number of children are suffering. Alexandra Yonts, director of the Post-COVID Program at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC, has already seen nearly 90 patients and has a schedule booked through November. “Each patient is a life that has been affected,” she says. And if her son or daughter is so patient, then the number is certainly not insignificant. Monika Varma, a mother whose nine-year-old son tested positive in late December 2021, said american scientist who, for most of this year, has suffered from a deep cough, multiple headaches a day and extreme fatigue, which has prevented him from continuing with school work, let alone playing football. He has just started to feel better.

To help patients like Varma’s son, scientists are racing to better understand the long-term risks of COVID infection. A recent large CDC study, published in the agency’s journal Weekly Morbidity and Mortality Reportfound that after a COVID infection, boys were twice as likely have acute pulmonary embolism (a blood clot in the lungs), myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), and cardiomyopathy (a disease of the heart muscle that can cause it to become enlarged or stiff) than children who were not infected. Venous blood clots, kidney failure and type 1 diabetes were also more likely among COVID patients.

But whether these risks qualify as COVID-19 is up for debate. Freedman notes that it is unclear whether the complications seen in children who had COVID are associated with acute infection or prolonged COVID, in part because the research relied on a medical claims database, where codes and even dates they can be misleading. Furthermore, the study used the CDC definition of prolonged COVID (complications arising four weeks after infection), while the WHO and most of the aforementioned studies have looked at symptoms two or more months after infection. The shorter timeline could have dramatically influenced the CDC study because many symptoms go away over time, Freedman says. Myocarditis, for example, occurs when someone is seriously ill but goes away within a few months. Finally, the researchers did not quantify the overall incidence of long-term COVID, but their article noted that many symptoms are “rare or uncommon,” consistent with other recent studies.

“COVID infection may have some long-term impacts on some children,” Freedman says, but “I think for the vast majority of children, it’s not something to worry about.” A recent study he and his colleagues conducted bear this out. Research published in July in Open JAMA Networkfound that long COVID rates after 90 days could be as high as 9.8 percent in children who spent a significant portion of the time (two days or more) in hospital. The experts found that experiencing a prolonged hospital visit, being age 14 or older, and having seven or more symptoms were associated with an increased risk of developing prolonged COVID three months after initial infection. But for children who were discharged from the emergency room, the rate was 4.6 percent. That said, when the team subtracted the rates of prolonged COVID symptoms in non-COVID controls from COVID-positive children, they found that the resulting rates were 5.2 percent and 1.6 percent among hospitalized and nursing home children. high, respectively.

For those reasons, Freedman argues that vaccination is likely to help prevent prolonged COVID in children by reducing the risk of hospitalization. Yonts agrees that the jab is crucial. “Any time you get COVID, it’s a gamble,” she says. “So anything he can do to maximize his protection against that, including vaccination, is a no-brainer. At least tilt the odds a little more in her favor.


Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine will be awarded today

The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine will be awarded by the Nobel Assembly in Sweden on Monday, the first of several prizes to...

Unearthing everyday life at an ancient site in Greece

As the sun reached its peak, waves of heat rose from the cypress-clad hills around me. The turquoise waters of the Ionian Sea...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Progressive See extremism only elsewhere

The 9/11 elections in Sweden shocked intellectuals across the West. The Sweden Democrats, a nationalist-populist party founded in 1988 with neo-Nazi loyalties but...

Dr. Oz Closes in on Fetterman in Pennsylvania Senate Race: POLL

Republican candidate Dr. Mehmet Oz is narrowing the Democratic lieutenant's lead in the polls. government John Fetterman in the Pennsylvania Senate race, according...

In a new book, Nikki Haley criticizes the ‘hypocrisy’ of modern feminism

"Women fought for so long to have the freedom to make their own decisions," but now, every thought in their lives is "boxed in...