Age influences Long COVID symptoms in kids

A study of nearly 6,000 children and young adults in the US has found Long COVID symptoms vary among different age groups, potentially giving new tools to doctors to help diagnose and manage the syndrome more effectively.

The findings will be presented at a meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Toronto this week  by Rachel Gross, a paediatrician and population health researcher at New York University.

“These findings underscore the importance of characterising Long COVID in children while researchers are still discovering the long-term effects of COVID-19 infection in this age group,” Gross says.

“This research is important because clinicians can appropriately diagnose and treat Long COVID when they better understand how different age groups are affected by the condition.”

Compared to non-infected control groups school-age children, adolescents and young adults who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) had a suite of ongoing symptoms, according to the research. These include low energy, post-walking fatigue, headaches, pains, light-headedness, issues with focus, nausea and vomiting.

Chest pain and heart palpitations were found in young adults, but not in other groups. Changes in smell were found in young adults and adolescents.

More general symptoms like poor appetite, trouble sleeping and ongoing respiratory were seen in newborns up to children aged 5.

Symptoms with the “highest burden” in each age group were:

  • Infants – general and respiratory symptoms
  • Pre-school – general; respiratory; gastrointestinal; ear nose and throat symptoms
  • School-age – general; ear, nose and throat symptoms
  • Adolescents/young adults – loss of taste/smell and pain.

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