Here’s what we know about the risk of kids getting ‘long Covid’

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New research finds that children have a much lower risk of experiencing the symptoms of “long COVID.”

When children do have lingering symptoms related to COVID-19, they often resolve within 3 months.

The best way to protect yourself against long COVID-19 is to get vaccinated, physically distance, and wear a mask. A new analysis finds that long-term COVID-19 remains relatively rare among children.

Researchers based in Australia analyzed 14 international studies involving 19,426 children and adolescents who reported “long COVID” symptoms after infection with the coronavirus. Their findings suggest that the condition is much less common than previously thought.

According to a recently published scientific review by researchers at Melbourne’s Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), most global studies into long COVID in children had “significant limitations” and frequently overstated the risk. While relatively rare, long-term COVID-19 can affect children, according to the researchers.

In these cases, they found that the most common symptoms reported were headache, fatigue, sleep disturbance, concentration difficulties, and abdominal pain.

Many long COVID studies had no control group of healthy children, according to the researchers. In studies that included control groups, the percentage of people reporting long-term COVID-19 symptoms was similar among those with and without the infection.

“Of the five studies which included children and adolescents without SARS-CoV-2 infection as controls, two did not find persistent symptoms to be more prevalent in children and adolescents with evidence of SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the study authors wrote.

They pointed out that this highlights the difficulty in distinguishing long-term COVID-19 symptoms from pandemic-associated symptoms.

A separate research brief from MCRI concluded that “most” children and adolescents with COVID-19 are only mildly affected by the illness, some showing no symptoms at all.

When children do experience symptoms, they typically include fever, cough, a sore throat, blocked or runny nose, sneezing, muscle aches, and fatigue — more severe symptoms being uncommon.

“Severe COVID-19 disease in children and adolescents is very uncommon, and only very rarely causes death,” the authors wrote.

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