Most children who develop a symptomatic Covid-19 infection recover in six days and the number who experience symptoms after four weeks is low, a study published in The Lancet Child and Adolescent Health journal said.
The study carried out by reserachers in the United Kingdom collected data through a mobile application from more than 2.5 lakh children in the country aged five to 17 years.
The study found that the most common symptoms experienced by the children were headache (62.2%) and fatigue (55%). The average duration of illness for the children who tested positive for Covid-19 was six days. Most children recovered within four weeks, while only 77 out of 1,734 (4.4%) of them experienced symptoms after 28 days.
Older children (12-27 years) generally experienced symptoms for longer duration than the younger ones (5-11 years), the study found. The average duration of illness for older children was seven days, while that for younger children was five days.
“It is reassuring that the number of children experiencing long-lasting symptoms of Covid-19 symptoms is low,” Emma Duncan, the lead author of the study said. “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.”
The study included children who tested positive for the coronavirus, as well as those who tested negative for the disease, but had other illnesses, such as cold and flu.
Michael Absoud, one of the senior authors of the study said that data from their research showed that ilnesses such as flu and cold can also have prolonged symptoms in children. “It is important to consider this when planning for paediatric health services during the pandemic and beyond,” Absoud said.
The researchers noted that while some adults experience a prolonged illness after developing a coronavirus infections – a condition described as long Covid – where symptoms persist for four weeks or longer. But it is not known whether children can develop a similar condition, the study observed.
Among the adult population, the vast majority of patients of long Covid-19 took over 35 weeks to recover, according to a study published in Lancet on July 15.
Over 91% of the respondents took over 35 weeks to recover from their symptoms.
The most common symptoms that respondents listed were fatigue, cognitive dysfunction [brain fog] and post-exertional malaise, or worsening of symptoms after exercise. Other symptoms included changes in menstrual cycle, sexual dysfunction, increase in heart rate, memory loss and blurred vision.