Characterizing long COVID in children

A physician talks to a young patient.

Through research published in Pediatrics, investigators describe common features of long COVID, which is estimated to affect about 10-20% of children and young adults. 

In this review, long COVID was described as symptoms, such as dizziness, an increased heart rate, or feeling tired, that persisted for or developed at least four weeks after a coronavirus infection. Symptoms could vary and affect one or multiple organs and systems, including the heart, brain, and lungs. Long COVID was more likely to occur after a severe infection or infection with symptoms, such as coughing, headaches, or loss of taste or smell, but could occur after an infection without symptoms. Children could also develop new conditions, such as diabetes, myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), after an infection. 

The review, which assessed the largest studies to date, was supported by the NIH RECOVER Initiative. NHLBI co-leads this initiative with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke.