UK study finds long-term COVID effects rare in children

covid effects children, long term covid
© Miroslav Ferkuniak

This UK-based study, published in The Lancet, finds that long-term COVID effects are rare in children – usually, the illness is over after six days

When it comes to COVID-19, parents and guardians are stressed about how the virus can impact their child. Though the virus is largely believed to be less devastating for kids, now, there is strong evidence to support this.

A UK study, based on 1,734 children aged between five to 17, found that children usually recovered within six days. They found that almost all children with COVID recovered within eight weeks, while 4.4% experienced symptoms for longer than four weeks.

According to this new data, long COVID is less likely to happen in children than it is in adults.

‘Long-lasting symptoms of COVID’ are low

Professor Emma Duncan, lead and senior author of the study, from King’s College London, UK, said: “It is reassuring that the number of children experiencing long-lasting symptoms of COVID-19 symptoms is low. Nevertheless, a small number of children do experience long illness with COVID-19, and our study validates the experiences of these children and their families.”

What were the most common COVID symptoms in children?

Typically, they had only two symptoms remaining after four weeks.

The most common symptom experienced by children with long illness duration was fatigue. They found that 84% of children were reported with fatigue at some point in their illness, and this was the most persistent symptom. Headache and loss of sense of smell were also common, each symptom experienced by 77.9% of children at some stage over the course of their illness.

However, headache was more common early in illness whilst loss of sense of smell tended to happen later on and stay for longer.

‘Colds and flu can also have prolonged symptoms in children’

Dr Michael Absoud, a senior author of the study and Consultant & Senior Lecturer at King’s College London, said: “Our data highlight that other illnesses, such as colds and flu, can also have prolonged symptoms in children and it is important to consider this when planning for paediatric health services during the pandemic and beyond. This will be particularly important given that the prevalence of these illnesses is likely to increase as physical distancing measures implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are relaxed.

“All children who have persistent symptoms – from any illness – need timely multidisciplinary support linked with education, to enable them to find their individual pathway to recovery.”

Read the full study here.


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