Canadian researchers have found that the rates of long COVID are significantly lower in children compared to adults.
The report, published in the journal JAMA Network Open, examined the proportion of children under age 18 who had symptoms that met the definition of long COVID, also known as post-COVID condition, or PCC. Pediatric emergency departments nationwide have been collecting detailed data about COVID presentations. The current study involved in-depth follow-ups with 5,100 children and their caregivers at six and 12 months, after they had been tested for SARS-CoV-2.
Overall, they found that very few infected children developed PCC, which involves symptoms that develop within three months of infection, are present at the time of follow-up, and affect everyday functioning. For example, just six of 1,152 children who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 exhibited symptoms consistent with the PCC definition at a six-month follow-up. At 12 months, eight of 1,192 children were deemed to have PCC.
The team of researchers included the IWK and Dalhousie University, as part of the Pediatric Emergency Research Canada (PERC) Network. Led by Dr. Stephen Freedman at Alberta Children’s Hospital, the network has been identifying the impact of COVID on the pediatric population.
Team member, Dr. Jason Emsley of Dalhousie, also measured quality-of-life reductions for children who tested positive for COVID, finding no substantial differences from those who tested negative.
Dr. Emsley is an Emergency Physician and the Research Director for the IWK Department of Emergency Medicine. He is available to discuss the findings, which contrast previous studies and help clarify how many young people may develop long COVID following a SARS-CoV-2 infection.
Media interested in more information on this discovery, contact Alison Auld.
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