Acute and Persistent Symptoms in Children With Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-Confirmed Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Infection Compared With Test-Negative Children in England: Active, Prospective, National Surveillance

Maria Zavala, Georgina Ireland, Zahin Amin-Chowdhury, Mary E. Ramsay, Shamez N. Ladhani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

BACKGROUND: Most children recover quickly after coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), but some may have ongoing symptoms. Follow-up studies have been limited by small sample sizes and lack of appropriate controls. METHODS: We used national testing data to identify children aged 2-16 years with a SARS-CoV-2 PCR test during 1-7 January 2021 and randomly selected 1500 PCR-positive cases and 1500 matched PCR-negative controls. Parents were asked to complete a questionnaire about the acute illness and prespecified neurological, dermatological, sensory, respiratory, cardiovascular, gastrointestinal, mental health (including emotional and behavioral well-being), and other symptoms experienced ≥5 times at 1 month after the PCR test. RESULTS: Overall, 35.0% (859/2456) completed the questionnaire, including 38.0% (472/1242) of cases and 32% (387/1214) of controls, of whom 68% (320/472) and 40% (154/387) were symptomatic, respectively. The most prevalent acute symptoms were cough (249/859, 29.0%), fever (236/859, 27.5%), headache (236/859, 27.4%), and fatigue (231/859, 26.9%). One month later, 21/320 (6.7%) of symptomatic cases and 6/154 (4.2%) of symptomatic controls (P = .24) experienced ongoing symptoms. Of the 65 ongoing symptoms solicited, 3 clusters were significantly (P < .05) more common, albeit at low prevalence, among symptomatic cases (3-7%) than symptomatic controls (0-3%): neurological, sensory, and emotional and behavioral well-being. Mental health symptoms were reported by all groups but more frequently among symptomatic cases than symptomatic controls or asymptomatic children. CONCLUSIONS: Children with symptomatic COVID-19 had a slightly higher prevalence of ongoing symptoms than symptomatic controls, and not as high as previously reported. Healthcare resources should be prioritized to support the mental health of children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e191-e200
JournalClinical Infectious Diseases
Volume75
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Crown copyright 2021.

Keywords

  • children
  • COVID-19
  • long COVID
  • SARS-CoV-2 infection
  • transmission

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Acute and Persistent Symptoms in Children With Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)-Confirmed Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Infection Compared With Test-Negative Children in England: Active, Prospective, National Surveillance'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this