Risk of long Covid syndrome in children
Long Covid syndrome risk in children
The syndrome called “long Covid” is where people experience persistent symptoms once the infection has passed. These symptoms are many and varied. They include fatigue, shortness of breath, headache, difficulty concentrating, and many others (you can read about the list at the CDC site linked above). Estimates vary, but the incidence could be as high as 20% of people. Although long Covid is more common in people who had severe infection, it can occur even in people who had mild disease. We have known for some time it also can occur in children; a recent study gives us some data about how common it is in children.
It’s a well designed study, encompassing 8 countries and 1,884 children who tested positive for Covid. These children were matched with an equal number of control children who did not have Covid. In total, 447 of the Covid positive children were hospitalized for their infection. Overall, 6% of the Covid positive children experienced symptoms 90 days or more after infection. The most common symptoms were fatigue and weakness. The children who were initially hospitalized because they were sicker were more likely to have persistent symptoms, as were children older than 14. So it does appear the risk increases with age. The study was done before Covid vaccine was approved for children, so we don’t have any information about if vaccination is protective against long Covid. But it seems to me it’s reasonable to assume it probably is.
Bottom line: Covid is not a trivial illness in children, as some have claimed. Vaccination makes good sense because certainly the data we already have show it is protective against severe disease.