Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Clinical Characteristics, Activity Levels and Mental Health Problems in Children with Long COVID: A Survey of 510 Children

Version 1 : Received: 8 March 2021 / Approved: 9 March 2021 / Online: 9 March 2021 (12:37:24 CET)

How to cite: Buonsenso, D.; Espuny Pujol, F.; Munblit, D.; Mcfarland, S.; Simpson, F. Clinical Characteristics, Activity Levels and Mental Health Problems in Children with Long COVID: A Survey of 510 Children. Preprints 2021, 2021030271 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202103.0271.v1). Buonsenso, D.; Espuny Pujol, F.; Munblit, D.; Mcfarland, S.; Simpson, F. Clinical Characteristics, Activity Levels and Mental Health Problems in Children with Long COVID: A Survey of 510 Children. Preprints 2021, 2021030271 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202103.0271.v1).

Abstract

Background The World Health Organization has recently recognized Long COVID, calling the international medical community to strengthen research and comprehensive care of patients with this condition. However, if Long COVID pertains to children as well is not yet clear. Methods An anonymous, online survey was developed by an organization of parents of children suffering from persisting symptoms since initial infection. Parents were asked to report signs and symptoms, physical activity and mental health issues. Only children with symptoms persisting for more than four weeks were included. Results 510 children were included (56.3% females) infected between January 2020 and January 2021. At their initial COVID-19 infection, 22 (4.3%) children were hospitalized. Overall, children had persisting COVID-19 for a mean of 8.2 months (SD 3.9). Most frequent symptoms were: Tiredness and weakness (444 patients, 87.1% of sample), Fatigue (410, 80.4%), Headache (401, 78.6%), Abdominal pain (387, 75.9%), Muscle and joint pain (309, 60.6%), Post-exertional malaise (274, 53.7%), rash (267, 52.4%). 484 (94.9%) children had had at least four symptoms. 129 (25.3%) children have suffered constant COVID-19 infection symptoms, 252 (49.4%) have had periods of apparent recovery and then symptoms returning, and 97 (19.0%) had a prolonged period of wellness followed by symptoms. Only 51 (10.0%) children have returned to previous levels of physical activity. Parents reported a significant prevalence of Neuropsychiatric symptoms. Conclusions Our study provides further evidence on Long COVID in children. Symptoms like fatigue, headache, muscle and joint pain, rashes and heart palpitations, and mental health issues like lack of concentration and short memory problems, were particularly frequent and confirm previous observations, suggesting that they may characterize this condition. A better comprehension of Long COVID is urgently needed..

Keywords

long covid; children; SARS-CoV-2

Subject

MEDICINE & PHARMACOLOGY, Allergology

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