Symptoms of long COVID in children may change over time, study finds

New symptoms may appear in children up to a year after initial infection with Covid-19, finds a new study led by UCL researchers.

The Children and young people with Long Covid (CLoCk) study, published in The Lancet Regional Health — Europe, is the world’s largest study on long Covid in children.

Researchers asked children aged 11 to 17 about their health six months and 12 months after taking a PCR test between September 2020 and March 2021. They also asked them to recall their symptoms at the time of taking the test.

None of the children initially invited to participate in the study had been hospitalised. In total the researchers examined data from 5,086 children, 2,909 of whom tested positive for Covid-19, and 2,177 of whom tested negative.

Researchers asked the children and young people what they had experienced from a list of 21 symptoms, including shortness of breath and tiredness, as well as using validated scales to assess quality of life, mental health, wellbeing and fatigue.

The team found that, at time of testing, health issues were more common in children and young people who had tested positive for the virus compared to those who tested negative, as well as six months and 12 months post PCR test. For example, among the test-positives, 10.9% reported fatigue at all three time points while among test-negatives only 1.2% reported fatigue at all three time points.

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