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Rise of persistent symptoms in children frightens families

(Bloomberg) – One of the few reassuring statistics from the COVID-19 pandemic nightmare – which generally does not affect young people – is fading: The long-term symptoms that have affected many American adults are now affecting to those under 20 years of age.

A relatively small but growing percentage of children struggle for months with extreme fatigue, rapid heart rate, memory loss, depression, and other symptoms. In a sign of their growing numbers, UH Rainbow Babies and Children Hospital in Cleveland is opening a clinic to treat long-term sequelae for young people, the first of its kind in the country.

Families whose children are affected are plunged into a terrifying maze of symptoms that come and go, with no known end point. Katie Krol, 42, contracted the virus from a coworker at an engine plant in Michigan in March 2020 and passed it on to her two youngest children. All three continue to suffer from the aftermath.

“This has turned their lives upside down,” Krol said. “Doctors say that in six or 12 months they will be better. The fallacy that children don’t get the disease is so frustrating. “

Even the family of Andrew Slavitt, one of the Biden Administration’s top covid advisers, is grappling with the same issue. In a briefing Tuesday at the White House, he revealed that one of his sons, who are “young and fit,” caught the virus six months ago but still experiences shortness of breath and frequent flu symptoms. Slavitt said the family has no idea how long it will last.

Even as cases in the United States are declining overall, researchers are investigating whether COVID-19 is becoming more serious for children now that the variants are causing localized outbreaks. In early April, the rate of cases in young children and adolescents began to exceed that of those over 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And the hospitalizations of children with covid are not falling as much as those of those over 18.

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The decision made last week by federal authorities to allow children between the ages of 12 and 15 to receive the covid vaccine reassured doctors who have seen that vaccines allow some patients to overcome long-lasting symptoms. But it doesn’t help everyone, and many others still don’t see any reason to get the vaccine.

A study published last week by Scientific Reports that analyzed data from more than 12,000 childhood patients found that most do not have the usual symptoms of covid, such as fever, cough or shortness of breath. Almost 19% reported fever, malaise, muscle or joint pain, and smell or taste disturbances. More than 16% had respiratory symptoms, 14% experienced gastrointestinal problems, and some required critical care.

Since new variants of the virus have affected younger populations, cases of long-term sequelae from covid have increased among them, along with multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C, a condition that can inflame the heart, lungs , the brain and other organs. The CDC says 3,742 children in the U.S. have been diagnosed with the syndrome, but that number is likely undervalued because the data is based on voluntary reports from hospitals and state health departments that are out of whack, which is disturbing news. for parents of unvaccinated children under 12 years of age. Most cases of MIS-C have been seen in children ages 5 to 14, according to the CDC. For young people with long-lasting symptoms, the lack of initial symptoms can give a false sense of security. After Krol brought the covid home, his 10-year-old daughter, Emma, ​​appeared to be ignorant of the virus and had almost no symptoms. Their 14-year-old son Rhys developed them slowly.

Eight weeks later, the real nightmare began. Rhys and Emma complained of fatigue, headaches and a racing heart rate that could exceed 100 beats per minute and rise to more than 160, Krol said. Her daughter was losing her sense of taste and complaining that the meat tasted metallic. He has not yet fully regained his ability to taste and does not feel like eating, Krol said.

Both boys struggle with memory problems (“brain fog,” doctors call it) that make it difficult for them to do well in school. They have trouble concentrating in virtual classes.

Rhys’s fatigue problems have worsened. Krol found him once asleep on the kitchen floor. He couldn’t remember how he got there. If you are on your feet for more than an hour, your feet become swollen and red. Has difficulty staying awake during virtual school classes and forgets to turn in assignments after completing them. You will likely have to repeat the ninth grade.

Amy Edwards, deputy medical director of the Ohio University Hospital’s pediatric infection control department and who now runs the new clinic to treat the long-term consequences of covid, estimates that approximately 1% of children with the disease develop symptoms of long duration, although data are scarce.

Original Note: Families Live in Fear as Long-Haul Covid Afflicts More Children

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