New research published in JAMA Pediatrics finds more children are being hospitalized with long COVID symptoms.
Ten-year-old Alex Allen has been struggling with significant, new health problems since he initially got COVID in January. His initial infection was not severe, but in the spring, he was hospitalized for persistent pain and blood pressure issues.
Doctors told Allen’s mom the 10-year-old had long COVID. Allen is now too weak to walk on his own and requires a wheelchair. He also shakes and has migraines and persistent pain throughout his body. He undergoes physical therapy several times a week.
“I have pain in my head, and then, they will jump body part to body part,” Allen described.
Meanwhile, new research published in JAMA Pediatrics is revealing more details about the long COVID symptoms children are experiencing. It used health records to analyze persistent symptoms and conditions. The most common were lost of taste and smell and heart inflammation.
Dr. Suchitra Rao, with infectious diseases at Children’s Hospital Colorado, was lead author on the research.
“One of the risk groups that we identified was actually children under the age of 5,” Dr. Rao noted. “Heart inflammation is something that can be quite severe in children.”
The research also revealed that long COVID is less frequent in children than adults. However, long COVID symptoms and conditions are sending children to the hospital at higher rates than the initial virus infection.
Next, Dr. Rao hopes to study if COVID-19 vaccines might help prevent or lesson long COVID symptoms.
“We’re starting to see some evidence that it can be helpful in the prevention of long COVID in adults,” Rao said.
Allen was not vaccinated against COVID-19 when he got sick. Other international research found long COVID shows up in as many as 1 in 10 children. In adults, it can be as high as 1 in 3.