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Small Proportion of Children With SARS-CoV-2 Have Prolonged Illness

4.4 percent of children had illness duration of at least 28 days; fatigue, headache, anosmia most common symptoms during first four weeks

Child getting temperature taken

THURSDAY, Aug. 5, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- A small proportion of children with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection have prolonged illness duration, according to a study published online Aug. 3 in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health.

Erika Molteni, Ph.D., from King's College London, and colleagues conducted a prospective study involving U.K. school-aged children to examine illness duration and characteristics of 1,734 symptomatic children testing positive for SARS-CoV-2. Data were also included for symptomatic children testing negative for SARS-CoV-2 matched in a 1:1 ratio.

The researchers found that the most common symptoms were headache and fatigue (62.2 and 55.0 percent of children, respectively). Median illness duration was six days compared with three days in children testing negative; duration was longer for older (age 12 to 17 years) compared with younger (age 5 to 11 years) children (seven versus five days). Overall, 4.4 percent of children had illness duration of at least 28 days, which occurred more often in older than younger children (5.1 versus 3.1 percent). During the first four weeks of illness, the most common symptoms were fatigue, headache, and anosmia (84.4, 77.9, and 77.9 percent, respectively); after day 28, the symptom burden was low compared with the first weeks of illness (median, two versus six symptoms). Of those testing negative, 0.9 percent had symptoms for at least 28 days.

"A small number of children do experience long illness with COVID-19, and our study validates the experiences of these children and their families," a coauthor said in a statement.

Several authors disclosed employment and financial ties to Zoe Limited.

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