THURSDAY, Aug. 5, 2021 (HealthDay News) — As doctors see more kids with COVID-19, some positive news has emerged: Only about 4% of children and teens have long-lasting COVID symptoms, a British study finds.
The study confirms that COVID-19 tends to be a mild illness in children and that they usually recover quickly, the researchers reported Aug. 3 in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.
“It is reassuring that the number of children experiencing long-lasting symptoms of COVID-19 is low. Nevertheless, a small number of children do experience long illness with COVID-19, and our study validates the experiences of these children and their families,” lead author Emma Duncan said in a journal news release. She’s a professor at King’s College London.
Some adults have extended illness after COVID-19, with symptoms persisting for four weeks or longer. But it was not clear whether children could develop a similar condition.
To find out, the researchers looked at more than 1,700 U.K. children, aged 5 to 17 years, who tested positive for COVID-19 between Sept. 1, 2020 and Feb. 22, 2021.
Their positive tests occurred close to the onset of symptoms, and their parents regularly reported on their children’s symptoms until they were healthy again.
The patients typically recovered within a week and had few symptoms. Illness lasted an average of six days, and the average number of symptoms was three, the researchers found.
Nearly all of the symptomatic children recovered by eight weeks. Only 4.4% continued to have symptoms beyond four weeks and had an average of two persistent symptoms, typically fatigue, headache or loss of sense of smell.
The findings show that long-term COVID-19 symptoms are less common in children than in adults, according to the study authors.
Children who do have persistent symptoms should receive multidisciplinary care and education to support their recovery, the researchers advised.
“We hope our results will be useful and timely for doctors, parents and schools caring for these children — and of course the affected children themselves,” Duncan said.
The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on COVID-19.
SOURCE: The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health, news release, Aug. 3, 2021