Home Health Poor concentration and abdominal pain: this is the Long Covid of children

Poor concentration and abdominal pain: this is the Long Covid of children

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Poor concentration and abdominal pain: this is the Long Covid of children

The pandemic has affected every aspect of the lives of children and adolescents and more and more data confirm that they too can suffer from Long Covid, albeit in a lower percentage than adults.

Even children after recovery from the virus can develop Long Covid

by Elena Bozzola


Until now, the focus had been mainly on adolescents but a new work from the University of Copenhagen, published in the Lancet, has considered children aged 0 to 14 in what is the largest study ever conducted on the aftermath of the SARS infection. Cov-2.

Thousands of children involved

The Danes collected information from January 2020 to July 2021. In total they analyzed data from 11,000 children, previously infected with Covid, and 33,000 who had never been positive. It was the parents (or whoever took their place) who answered a questionnaire drawn up by researchers on the 23 most common Long Covid symptoms, according to the WHO, which must last more than two months to be classified under this syndrome. To understand the vastness of the Danish research, it can be remembered that the largest Italian study so far completed (and not yet completed) involves a thousand children (according to preliminary data, Long Covid affects 17% of infected children).

Division by age groups

The Danish study concluded that children diagnosed with Sars-Cov-2, in all age groups, are more likely to suffer from symptoms associated with long Covid than the control group, which included negative subjects. A result that seems obvious, but in reality the percentages of the two groups, apart from one case, were very similar.

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“These types of non-specific symptoms, such as headache, abdominal pain, fatigue, which are attributed to Long Covid, in reality, as we know, often also affect” healthy “children, who have never had the infection”, explains the professor Selina Kikkenborg Mountainfrom the University of Copenhagen hospital, author of the study.

His researchers found that in the 0-3 age group, 40% of children with Covid experience had symptoms that lasted for over two months compared to 27% in the control group. While in the following bands the difference is thinned. Between the ages of 4 and 11, 38% of the positives showed symptoms against 34% of the others, and in the 12-14 age group the percentages were 46% and 41%.

Another fact concerns psychological and social problems, especially for older children. In those diagnosed with Covid, less fear, worry and insomnia were seen than in those who had never been ill.

“It’s very interesting and it’s the counter-proof that kids have been loaded with a lot of anxiety about the pandemic, especially teenagers. An Italian study concluded that middle school kids were largely ready to get vaccinated not so much for themselves but to protect parents and grandparents – explains Professor Guido Castelli Gattinaraof the Child Jesus Institute for Child and Adolescent Health in Rome and president of the Italian Society of Pediatric Infectious Disease – It is therefore normal that those who have not yet had Covid remain anxious and worried “.

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The results of the questionnaires published by Lancet led to the identification of different symptoms according to age. Between 0-3 years of age, the most common are sudden changes in mood, skin rashes and abdominal pain. In children between 4 and 11 years of age, mood swings and difficulty in remembering and concentrating occur more often, while in older children, fatigue and memory problems and difficulty concentrating have been reported above all.

“We have also noticed among our patients that the little ones tend to have intestinal tract disorders as one of the most persistent symptoms, which instead diminishes in older children – continues Castelli Gattinara – For the latter, on the other hand, one of the main problems that characterize the Long Covid is the brain foga fatigue in concentrating, doing homework and studying “.

The vaccine also protects against Long Covid

According to initial indications, Omicron seems to cause fewer cases of Long Covid than the other variants, even in children. And then there is always the vaccine that also protects from aftermath: “Surely vaccination also has an effect on long Covid – confirms the expert – We also found that the cases of Mis-C, the very serious multisystem inflammatory syndrome, which affected some children after they fell ill with coronavirus, have been significantly reduced since we started vaccinating them “.

The authors themselves recognize some limitations to the study. In many cases a long time had passed between the diagnosis of Sars-Cov-2 and the completion of the questionnaire, furthermore the researchers had to rely on data collected exclusively from parents (therefore potentially not always accurate) and it is known that mothers or fathers of the children most severely affected by the disease are usually those who are most willing to answer questions.

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“These researches are methodologically difficult – concludes the pediatrician – This is why in the scientific literature there is sometimes disparity of results. The fact that the symptoms are vague and subjective makes it difficult to classify them”.

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