Can Kids Get Long COVID, Too?

By Mika Goren-Eisenberg, age 11

COVID-19 is a virus that we have all heard about, but we all might not have heard about long COVID. A recent study published in June 2022 in the Lancet found that around 4% of children under the age of 14 experience long COVID or long COVID symptoms. That doesn’t sound like that many, but it actually is, because about 15 million children have tested positive since 2020.

Long COVID can occur months or even a year after a COVID infection. As long COVID is such a new condition, initially most reports seemed to suggest that it was a condition that mostly adults got; however, recent studies have shown that long COVID might actually be just as common in kids. Some kids with long COVID have severe headaches, mood swings, fatigue, memory loss and concentration difficulties, which can be really hard to deal with while trying to go to school.   

Although having severe COVID-19 does increase your risk of getting long COVID, children who have mild or no symptoms can still get long COVID. This makes it more difficult to diagnose, because sometimes parents might think that it’s not possible that their kid has long COVID and is exaggerating to get out of school.

“Unfortunately, I have a lot of kids in my practice who come in with complaints of feeling winded walking upstairs, or are exhausted, or have constant headaches after having had COVID-19 two to three months earlier,” explained Dr. Gina Posner, a pediatrician at the Medical Group in Fountain Valley, Calif., to What to Expect about how long COVID confuses many parents. “But parents often find it hard to believe because their child initially barely had any symptoms with COVID-19.”

The best way to protect kids from long COVID is to keep them from catching the virus in the first place. Vaccinations are important, as well as precautions like wearing a mask in crowded areas when cases are high and washing your hands thoroughly.  

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