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Children can experience long Covid symptoms similar to adults, such as respiratory ailments and lower immunity, a new study has found. 

The study, published recently in The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health journal, revealed that children infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus can experience symptoms of long Covid lasting at least two months.

The most commonly reported symptoms among children in the 0-3 year category were mood swings, rashes and stomach aches, the study said.

Among four to 11 years old, the most commonly reported symptoms were trouble remembering or concentrating and rashes besides mood swings.

Among 12-14 years old, fatigue, mood swings, and trouble remembering or concentrating were the main symptoms, it noted.

In India, doctors have pointed out that long Covid issues in children are well-known. 

"We are encountering long Covid syndrome in children similar to adults. They can have multiple presentations, like in the adult population we have involvement of the respiratory system, patients are experiencing recurrent pneumonia, the immunity is lower, so they are experiencing GI infections, such as chronic diarrhoea and weight loss," said Dr Col. Vijay Dutta, senior consultant in internal medicine, Indian Spinal Injuries Centre.

"Due to lowered immunity, they have symptoms like any rheumatological disorder overlap syndromes and other symptoms which are commonly seen in the immunocompromised pediatric age group. They are now being commonly encountered in children who have suffered from Covid. Long Covid is now a well-recognised problem across the world," Dutta added.

However, experts have also stated that there is no need to panic and stressed the need of early treatment.

Dr Krishan Chugh, director and head of the paediatrics department, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, cited the Lancet study to say that in all three groups of children – less than three years, four to 11 years, and 12-14 years – those who tested positive in RT-PCR had higher chances of having at least one symptom at the second and third month compared to the children that remained indoors.

"However, in a majority of the children, these symptoms were mild. Interestingly, the quality of life-related to emotional and social functioning was better in those who had Covid compared to controls in the older children age group," he said.

Most of the symptoms the infected children exhibited were the same that could occur in those forced to stay indoors without any contact outside, such as mood swings, Chugh said.

The study included children infected during the Alpha and the Delta waves (first and the second waves) and not the present Omicron wave, which in all ways is milder, he added.

"So, while we have to recognise the children who have long Covid symptoms early and treat them, I think there is no cause for undue alarm. Children have braved Covid better than adults in every way. A meta-analysis of several other studies in children on the same subject published in 'Nature' on June 23 shows a lower incidence of long Covid than quoted in the Lancet study," Chugh said.

With inputs from agencies. 

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