Since children tend to have a lower chance of developing serious COVID-19 than adults, those who may contract the disease do not attract as much coverage from experts and the media. Nonetheless, some of these children have developed into “long haulers,” exhibiting symptoms months after contracting SARS-CoV-2.
According to some reports, children are less likely than adults to contract serious COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-2.
Long COVID And Children: COVID-19’s Overlooked Victims
According to reports, most children who develop the current coronavirus experience mild-to-moderate symptoms or stay asymptomatic. They can, however, develop pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS), in some acute situations.
PIMS will manifest 2–6 weeks after a SARS-CoV-2 infection, according to available data, and some of the symptoms that can follow it include: gastrointestinal signs and a persistent fever, headaches, rashes, or pink eye.
Symptoms of COVID-19 in children should normally get better and then vanish altogether within a couple of weeks from the start of symptoms. However, certain children continue to have signs weeks or even months following their original infection, a condition known as “long COVID.”
How do continuing COVID-19 effects impact the daily lives and well-being of children and teenagers who are affected?
Since there is a scarcity of reliable research on children who have long-term COVID-19 effects, it’s impossible to tell how common this occurrence is in children under the age of 18.
Presently, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the United Kingdom has collected the most comprehensive sets of results.
According to new experimental figures released by the ONS in January 2021, COVID-19 signs were already present in 12.9 percent of children aged 2–11 years, 14.5 percent of those aged 12–16 years, and 17.1 percent of adolescents and young adults aged 17–24 years 5 weeks after the beginning.
Long COVID could be more prevalent in children than public health experts have predicted, according to an analysis led by researchers from the Department of Woman and Child Health and Public Health.
The research, which is still unpublished and unreviewed but has been posted on the preprint website medRxiv, looked at the health records of 129 children who contracted COVID-19 in Italy between March and November 2020.
At 120 days (roughly 4 months) after the initial diagnosis, 52.7 percent of those surveyed said they had experienced at least one COVID-19 symptom.
The explanation why some children and adults develop COVID-19 symptoms for weeks or months after being infected with SARS-CoV-2 is unclear.
Long COVID symptoms in adults could be due to the active virus remaining in the system, reinfection with the same or a new SARS-CoV-2 strain, immune system problems, or a preexisting disease such as chronic fatigue syndrome, according to some experts.
Some also suggested that post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) from the initial illness may be a factor.
However, the causes that predispose children and teenagers to long COVID can be different from those that predispose adults.
Although the causes of long COVID in children are unclear, researchers have begun to study them, according to Dr. Morrow and Dr. Malone of the Kennedy Krieger Institute.
“We are observing children with chronic symptoms after initial COVID infection in our pediatric Post COVID-19 Rehabilitation Clinic at Kennedy Krieger Institute,” they said.
When it comes to extreme post-COVID reactions like PIMS, some scientists believe they may be explained by the immune system’s overreaction to a fragment of the virus’s spike protein, which causes the SARS-CoV-2 virus to infect cells.
Many of these hypotheses, though, are yet to be confirmed.