Long COVID in children and adolescents: Is it real?
Keywords:adolescent, fatigue, Long COVID, persistent symptoms
Introduction: While acute COVID-19 symptoms are well defined and described, long-term symptoms are not. Most patients achieve full recovery within 3-4 weeks after the onset of the infection, but in some cases, symptoms persist weeks or months after recovery. Although extensively studied in adults, COVID-19 data in pediatric patients remains scarce.
Objective: To review the available literature regarding Long COVID syndrome in children and adolescents.
Methods: A brief literature review was conducted on PubMed and Google Scholar databases using the terms “Long COVID”, “post-COVID”, “persistent COVID” AND “children”, “adolescents”, “pediatric”.
Results: Seventeen articles were eligible for this review. The prevalence of Long COVID was highly variable, ranging from 2 to 66%. The most commonly reported symptoms were fatigue, shortness of breath, headache, sleep disturbance, concentration difficulties, chronic cough, dizziness, myalgia, chest pain, poor sense of smell or anosmia, abdominal pain, and loss of appetite or weight. Older age, muscle pain on admission, Intensive Care Unit admission, allergic diseases, higher body mass index, and longer duration of infection were risk factors identified for the development of Long COVID. Six studies included a control group; four reported differences between groups, with more symptoms in the group of cases, and one reported no differences between groups.
Conclusion: Long COVID represents a significant public health concern, which should be studied to enable the development of protective measures, rehabilitation programs, and specific guidelines. Appropriate case-control studies are important to better discriminate between symptoms associated with SARS-CoV-2 and those associated with the pandemic.
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