January 25, 2023

In The News: Long COVID Could Be Debilitating, Even for Healthy Kids

CNN reports on children dealing with long COVID following either severe or mild illnesses. The article includes several personal stories from parents and children navigating long COVID effects, many having seemed fine for a period after COVID before facing a bevy of symptoms that had doctors and hospitals working tirelessly to properly diagnose and treat them.

There remains no specific test or treatment for long COVID, despite one study from June suggesting more than a quarter of kids who get COVID-19 may develop long term symptoms and a study from 2021 putting that number even higher. It remains unclear why some children develop long COVID while others do not, nor why severity of initial illness is an indicator of long-term symptoms. Some children also face questions from parents and others regarding the validity of their symptoms.

The personal stories carry a common theme of parents, concerned over their child’s abnormal behavior, searching out answers and going from doctor to doctor, specialist to specialist to find them. One of the places that these families have found is at UH Rainbow Babies & Children’s long COVID clinic, run by PIDS member Dr. Amy Edwards. The clinic, like others that have followed, use an integrated approach to treat symptoms such as fatigue, rash, stomachache, headache, muscle ache, loss of smell and taste, circulation problems, trouble concentrating and pain.

Studies are underway at NIH to learn more about long COVID in adults and children. In the meantime, clinics specializing in treating long COVID in children will continue their work supporting and helping children and families in need and encouraging them to help protect kids from the virus through vaccination, mask wearing and hygiene.

Amy Edwards is quoted throughout the story and shared, “One of the biggest things that I do with these kids is provide a diagnosis and reassure the families that they’re not crazy, because so many of these kids have been to see doctor after doctor after doctor who tell them they’re faking it or chalk it up to anxiety or whatever. I want to help them know they are not alone. I can’t cure them, but we can help.”

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