Research Press Release

Health: Risk factors associated with long COVID in adolescents

Nature Communications

November 30, 2022

Lower socioeconomic status and chronic health conditions, in particular asthma, are associated with an increased risk of post-COVID syndrome (also known as long COVID) in adolescents, suggests a study published in Nature Communications. The findings, from a population-based study in Geneva involving over 1,000 children, show that around 14% of adolescents in the sample with a history of SARS-CoV-2 infection had at least one symptom lasting twelve weeks or longer.

The prevalence of post-COVID syndrome in children and adolescents is not well understood. It is also difficult to determine whether common symptoms, such as fatigue, result from SARS-CoV-2 infection or have other causes.

Idris Guessous and colleagues tested 1,034 children for evidence of previous SARS-CoV-2 infection. They also collected information from parents on whether the children had experienced persistent symptoms compatible with post-COVID syndrome. They found that persistent symptoms in adolescents (aged 12 to 17 years) were 8% more prevalent in those who had evidence of previous infection than those who did not. For younger children (aged 6 months to 11 years), there was no difference in the prevalence of persistent symptoms according to infection history. Lower socioeconomic status (reported in parental questionnaires) and chronic health conditions were also associated with increased risk of persistent symptoms in adolescents.

These findings indicate a need for health promotion and screening targeted at young people, particularly adolescents, so that effective primary care management can be rapidly implemented, conclude the authors.

doi:10.1038/s41467-022-34616-8

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