A new international study is offering insights into how often children experience long Covid, or post-Covid conditions (PCC), and which kids have the highest risk.
Researchers from Canada's University of Calgary surveyed families of 1,884 children who tested positive for Covid-19 in the emergency room.
The data came from eight countries and 36 emergency departments. The authors narrowed the definition of PCC to "any persistent, new, or recurrent health problems reported in the 90-day follow-up survey."
The study found that 5.8% of children who tested positive for Covid experienced PCC after 90 days. But PCC was more commonly seen in children:
- who were hospitalized for at least 48 hours
- identified a minimum of four symptoms during their initial trip to the emergency room
- ages 14 and up.
Of children hospitalized for 48 hours or more, 9.8% developed PCC, compared to 4.6% of pediatric patients discharged from the ER.
Researchers also found pediatric patients with PCC most commonly reported experiencing fatigue or weakness.
A cough, breathing difficulty, or shortness of breath were the second-most commonly identified symptoms.
"Our finding that children who had multiple Covid symptoms initially were at higher risk for long Covid is consistent with studies in adults," co-principal investigator, Dr Todd Florin from Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine said in a press release.
Unfortunately, Dr Florin said there is no known treatment for PCC in children.
"More research is needed in this area. However, if symptoms are significant, treatment targeting the symptoms is most important. Multidisciplinary care is warranted if symptoms are impacting quality of life."
Researchers did note the study had some limitations.
The authors also did not mention the vaccination status of the participants, but most children did not have access to the vaccine while the study was conducted.
The CDC and American Academy of Pediatrics recommend children aged six months and older receive vaccinations.
Though children are less likely to die from Covid, they can contract it.