A new study, published in Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, has found that only one in 20 children with symptomatic COVID experienced symptoms lasting longer than 4 weeks, according to Science Daily.
The study also found that all children were fully recovered by 8 weeks.
Researchers at King’s College London looked at more than 250,000 children aged between 5 and 17, with nearly 7,000 having symptoms consistent with COVID-19 and a positive test.
They found that on average, the illness lasted for 5 days in younger children (5-11 years old) and 7 days in children aged 12-17. And less than 4% experienced symptoms for 4 weeks or more, while only 1.8% had symptoms persisting for more than 8 weeks.
Some of the most common symptoms reported in children were headaches, fatigue, a sore throat, and loss of smell.
Senior author Dr. Michael Absoud said, “Our data highlight that other illnesses, such as colds and flu, can also have prolonged symptoms in children and it is important to consider this when planning for pediatric health services during the pandemic and beyond.”
“This will be particularly important given that the prevalence of these illnesses is likely to increase as physical distancing measures implemented to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are relaxed,” he added. “All children who have persistent symptoms — from any illness — need timely multidisciplinary support linked with education, to enable them to find their individual pathway to recovery.”
Lord Bethell, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, said, “Studies like this will help us build our understanding of long COVID and its impact on different groups as we learn to live with the virus. As the Health and Social Care Secretary has said, we want the UK to be a world leader in researching long COVID.”
“It’s encouraging to see the condition is uncommon among children and we will continue to provide support to those suffering the long-term effects of the virus,” he added. “Already we have opened over 80 long COVID assessment services across England, including specialist services for children and young people backed by £100 million.”
Bethell further added, “We are also supporting our exceptional scientists with over £50 million for research to better understand the long-term effects to ensure the right help and treatments are available.”
Another senior author Prof. Emma Duncan said, “We know from other studies that many children who catch coronavirus don’t show any symptoms at all, and it will be reassuring for families to know that those children who do fall ill with COVID-19 are unlikely to suffer prolonged effects. However, our research confirms that a small number do have a long illness duration with COVID-19, though these children too usually recover with time.”
“We hope our results will be useful for doctors, parents, and schools caring for these children — and of course affected children themselves,” she added. “It’s also important that we remember that there are other infectious diseases that can leave children unwell for many weeks, and these children shouldn’t be overlooked.” The article was published in Science Daily.