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Long COVID symptoms in children more prevalent in those 14 and older: study

Long COVID symptoms in children more prevalent in those 14 and older: study

Children over age 14 are more likely than younger children to present with long COVID symptoms, a new study shows, but it doesn’t preclude younger children from the disease.

A new pediatric study published Friday in the Journal of the American Medical Association Network Open found that nearly 6 percent of children infected with COVID-19 had long COVID symptoms 90 days after a positive test.

That percentage was even higher among children who were hospitalized for their illness, with 9.8 percent developing long COVID. Just 4.6 percent of children who were discharged right after testing were experiencing symptoms after 90 days.

Children were also more likely to develop long COVID if they had experienced seven or more symptoms when they first got sick, or if they had been hospitalized for more than two days. 

Kids over 14 years of age were more likely to experience long COVID symptoms, which can include pain, breathing difficulties, fatigue and brain fog. 

In an NBC interview published Friday, co-principal investigator Nathan Kuppermann, chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine at UC Davis, said the age discrepancy may be due in part to the varying abilities of young children to self-assess and report their symptoms.

Children under age 14 may be less able to identify symptoms like brain fog, Kupperman said, and may rely on their parents to judge their wellbeing and report it to researchers. Children over 14 may be more likely to recognize long COVID in themselves.

The Hill has reached out to Kuppermann for comment.

The team of researchers surveyed 1,884 children who tested positive for COVID in an emergency room, following up after 90 days to check for new or lingering symptoms.

The study ran from March 2020 through January 2021 and looked at children in eight countries including: Argentina, Canada, Costa Rica, Italy, Paraguay, Singapore, Spain, and the United States.

Long COVID in children is less common overall than in adults. Data from late June showed that 19 percent of U.S. adults reported new or lingering symptoms after their initial illness.