Children With Pre-Existing Conditions Experience More Severe COVID-19

The results of a review by Murdoch Children’s Research Institute finds that pediatric patients who are vaccinated get protection from the long-term effects of the disease.

The results of a review by the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI) published in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal showed that children who have pre-existing conditions are more likely to experience severe COVID-19 symptoms than those without.

Investigators studied the effects of COVID-19 on pediatric individuals, because of a lack of research on the subject.

“Current studies lack a clear case definition and age-related data, have variable follow-up times, and rely on self- or parent-reported symptoms without lab confirmation,” Nigel Curtis, professor at MCRI, said in a statement. “Another significant problem is that many studies have low response rates, meaning they might overestimate the risk of long COVID.”

They found that pediatric individuals with pre-existing conditions are at greater risk of severe COVID-19. Pediatric individuals with pre-existing conditions in the review reported severe symptoms at 5.1% compared with 0.2% without pre-existing conditions.

The review analyzed 14 international studies with a combined 19,426 pediatric individuals who reported persistent symptoms following COVID-19 infections.

The most common symptoms reported after 4 to 12 weeks were abdominal pain, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and headaches, investigators found.

“The low risk posed by acute disease means that one of the key benefits of COVID vaccination of children and adolescents might be to protect them from long COVID,” Curtis, professor of pediatric infectious disease at the University of Melbourne and head of infectious diseases at The Royal Children’s Hospital, said in the statement. “An accurate determination of the risk of long COVID in this age group is therefore crucial in the debate about the risks and benefits of vaccination.”

The review also confirmed research gaps around the Delta variant in pediatrics.

Australia has not reported any COVID-19 deaths in pediatrics younger than aged 10 years and just 1 death of an adolescent.

Reference

Long COVID symptoms in children rarely persist beyond 12 weeks. EurekAlert. News release. September 16, 2021. Accessed September 17, 2021. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/928599