Stomach pain, skin marks, dancing mood, fatigue, concentration and memory problems. These are the possible symptoms of Long Covid in children from zero to 14 years, which affect about 40% of those recovered from Sars-CoV-2 in this age group and last at least 2 months. This is indicated by the largest study conducted so far on post-infection syndrome in the under 14s, published by ‘The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health’. A Danish work on the basis of which the authors recommend “further research to better understand the long-term consequences of the pandemic on children”, “essential knowledge to guide diagnostic processes, care and decisions regarding measures such as vaccination” of the smallest, but also any new “lockdown”. Read also “Our results – underlines Selina Kikkenborg Berg of the University Hospital of Copenhagen – say that, although children who have been diagnosed with Covid-19 are more likely to show long-term symptoms than those without a previous diagnosis of Covid, the pandemic has affected every aspect of the life of all young people “in terms of” quality of life “, especially in light of” absence from school or kindergarten “. The research focused on 0-14 year olds because most previous Long Covid studies had focused on teenagers, with underrepresented infants and children. Questionnaires were sent to mothers or guardians of under 14 infected with Sars-CoV-2 between January 2020 and July 2021, to investigate the 23 symptoms of pediatric Long Covid considered most common after a survey in January 2021, using the WHO criteria for defining post-virus syndrome, i.e. symptoms persisting for more than 2 months. In total, responses were received for almost 11 thousand children who had experienced a Covid-19 infection, which were compared with those relating to over 33 thousand never positive results. It emerged that in the 0-3 age group, 40% of those who had had Covid showed symptoms for more than 2 months, compared to 27% of the controls; in 4-11 year olds the percentages were 38% (infected with Covid) and 34% (controls), while between 12-14 year olds 46% and 41%. The most frequent complaints were mood swings, skin rashes and stomach pains for the under 3s; mood swings, difficulty remembering or concentrating and rashes among 4-11 year olds, and fatigue, mood swings and difficulty remembering or concentrating in 12-14 year olds. not specifically associated with Long Covid, according to the study, those under 14 who had received a diagnosis of positive Covid-19 were more likely to experience long-term disorders than those never infected with Sars-CoV-2. For the authors, this suggests that the reported disorders were sequelae left by Covid, an element supported – the experts specify – by the fact that about a third of children who had been Covid-positive complained of absent symptoms before infection. Furthermore, as the duration of the disorders increased, the percentage of those who presented them tended to decrease.The researchers admit that their work has limitations, first and foremost the long period between the diagnosis of Covid and the survey. However, “our results are in line with previous studies on Long Covid in adolescents – remarks Kikkenborg Berg – which showed that, although the chances of children suffering from Long Covid are low, especially compared to the control groups, this syndrome must be recognized and treated seriously. Further research – she reiterates – will help to better understand these symptoms and the long-term consequences of the pandemic on children “. In a comment to the work, in which she was not involved, Maren Rytter of the University of Copenhagen observes:” Although the study found that symptoms of any kind were slightly more frequent in children who had been infected with Sars-CoV-2, “in the age groups considered,” the overall impact of having Covid-19 is likely to be small and much less than the impact of the indirect effects of the pandemic. For most children with non-specific symptoms after Covid-19, it is more likely that the disturbances are caused by something other than Covid and, if they are related to Covid-19, they are likely to pass over time “.
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