How Common is Long COVID in Children and Adolescents? : The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal

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How Common is Long COVID in Children and Adolescents?

Zimmermann, Petra MD, PhD*,†,‡,§; Pittet, Laure F. MD-PhD‡,§,¶; Curtis, Nigel FRCPCH, PhD‡,§,‖

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The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal 40(12):p e482-e487, December 2021. | DOI: 10.1097/INF.0000000000003328


In children, the risk of coronavirus disease (COVID) being severe is low. However, the risk of persistent symptoms following infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is uncertain in this age group, and the features of “long COVID” are poorly characterized. We reviewed the 14 studies to date that have reported persistent symptoms following COVID in children and adolescents. Almost all the studies have major limitations, including the lack of a clear case definition, variable follow-up times, inclusion of children without confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 infection, reliance on self- or parent-reported symptoms without clinical assessment, nonresponse and other biases, and the absence of a control group. Of the 5 studies which included children and adolescents without SARS-CoV-2 infection as controls, 2 did not find persistent symptoms to be more prevalent in children and adolescents with evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection. This highlights that long-term SARS-CoV-2 infection–associated symptoms are difficult to distinguish from pandemic-associated symptoms.

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