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Lisa Black

While most children and teenagers recover from COVID-19 within a few days or weeks, some experience longer lasting effects, known casually as “long COVID.” Symptoms of long COVID can include headaches, loss of taste and smell, diarrhea, chronic pain, rashes, brain fog and dizziness, but can also include more serious health conditions like heart issues and diabetes, according to a research review, “Postacute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 in Children,” in the March 2024 Pediatrics (published online Feb. 7). Authors reviewed relevant pediatric studies to summarize research on long COVID. Authors estimated that long COVID affects up to 5.8 million young people, given infection and long COVID rates (10-20%). Long COVID can develop in those with asymptomatic infection, but a study found it was much less common. Respiratory symptoms including cough, chest tightness and shortness of breath—which can exacerbate asthma and other respiratory conditions—along with fatigue are some of the common symptoms in children. Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) is the most serious complication of COVID and can be deadly. MIS-C can develop in 2 to 6 weeks after initial infection. Those most at risk are boys, ages 6-12, those of African American or Hispanic background, and those with obesity. Symptoms can include fever, chest pain, nausea, abdominal pain and/or vomiting. Cardiac complications of COVID-19 include myocarditis, MIS-C, and arrhythmias. Additionally, studies have reported an increase in the incidence of type 1 and type 2 diabetes, along with an increase in life-threatening complications of diabetes, in children and adolescents at least 30 days after SARS-CoV-2 infection. A U.S. study found a 72% increased risk of developing type 1 diabetes in the first six months following infection. While most young people with long COVID recover over several months, about a third have symptoms at 12 months after COVID, and authors found few studies examined long COVID in children after a year, indicating the need for continued research.  


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

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