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Symptoms May Persist After Pediatric SARS-CoV-2 Infection

Large cross-sectional study offers survey of long COVID symptoms in children who have had SARS-CoV-2 infection

FRIDAY, June 24, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Compared with controls, children aged 0 to 14 years who experience severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection have a higher prevalence of long-lasting symptoms, but they have a tendency toward better quality of life, according to a study published online June 22 in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

Selina Kikkenborg Berg, Ph.D., from Copenhagen University Hospital in Denmark, and colleagues surveyed mothers of children aged 0 to 14 years with a positive SARS-CoV-2 test between Jan. 1, 2020, and July 12, 2021, and matched controls regarding current overall health and well-being and ancillary questions about the 23 most common long COVID symptoms. Survey responses were received from 10,997 cases and 33,016 controls.

The researchers found that compared with controls, cases had higher odds of reporting at least one symptom lasting longer than two months among those aged 0 to 3, 4 to 11, and 12 to 14 years (odds ratios, 1.78, 1.23, and 1.21, respectively). Statistically significant but not clinically relevant differences were seen between cases and controls in the Children’s Somatic Symptoms Inventory-24. For children aged 4 to 11 and 12 to 14 years, small clinically relevant differences were seen in Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL) quality-of-life scores related to emotional functioning in favor of cases. Cases aged 12 to 14 years also had higher PedsQL social functioning scores compared with controls.

“Because most symptoms were mild, and the small excess of nonspecific symptoms was accompanied by a paradoxical higher quality of life in children who have had COVID-19, the study findings can be considered reassuring,” writes the author of an accompanying editorial.

One author disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical industry.

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