Long-COVID in children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analyses

Here’s a detailed summary of the study “Long-COVID in children and adolescents: a systematic review and meta-analyses”:

Objective and Methodology: The study aimed to estimate the prevalence of Long-COVID in children and adolescents and present the full spectrum of symptoms following acute COVID-19. A systematic review and meta-analyses were conducted using PubMed and Embase, identifying studies published before February 10, 2022. The studies included a total of 80,071 children and adolescents, focusing on ongoing (4 to 12 weeks) and post-COVID-19 (≥12 weeks) symptoms based on the NICE definition of Long-COVID​​.

Key Findings:

  1. Prevalence of Long-COVID: The prevalence of Long-COVID in this population was 25.24%. For hospitalized patients, it was slightly higher at 29.19%. The most common symptoms included mood symptoms (16.50%), fatigue (9.66%), sleep disorders (8.42%), headache (7.84%), and respiratory symptoms (7.62%)​​.
  2. Risk Comparison with Controls: When compared to controls, children with Long-COVID showed a higher risk of persistent dyspnea, anosmia/ageusia, and fever. The analysis revealed significant heterogeneity in the control groups across studies​​.
  3. Other Symptoms and Findings: The study also noted other symptoms like orthostatic intolerance, balance problems, and various neurological symptoms. These are commonly associated with dysautonomia, a dysfunction of the autonomic nervous system, but it’s unclear if these are direct results of SARS-CoV-2 infection or other factors​​.
  4. Impact on Development: The pandemic has profoundly impacted children’s development through factors like isolation, poverty, and increased stress. This has led to what is termed as long-Pandemic Syndrome, affecting mental health irrespective of COVID-19 status​​.
  5. Dependence of Symptoms on Time: The prevalence and severity of symptoms were noted to be dependent on the time elapsed since acute COVID-19 infection, with most symptoms improving over time. However, some symptoms can persist longer, similar to findings in adults​​.

Strengths and Limitations:

  • The strength of the meta-analysis lies in its large sample size, aiding in identifying various symptoms post-acute SARS-CoV-2 infection.
  • Limitations include the quality of the studies included, with a high probability of bias due to factors like lack of standardized definitions, recall selection, and heterogeneity among studies​​.

Conclusion: The study emphasizes the importance of protective measures to prevent Long-COVID in children and adolescents. Understanding the pathophysiology and symptomatology of Long-COVID is crucial for developing clinical management systems, rehabilitation programs, and therapeutic research. Long-COVID represents a significant public health concern, necessitating continuous monitoring and comprehensive studies to better understand its impact on the pediatric population​​.

Read More: https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-022-13495-5

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