Long-term physical, mental and social health effects of COVID-19 in the pediatric population: a scoping review

Madeline Borel, Luyu Xie, Olivia Kapera, Adrian Mihalcea, Jeffrey Kahn, Sarah E. Messiah

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: The majority of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) symptom presentations in adults and children appear to run their course within a couple of weeks. However, a subgroup of adults has started to emerge with effects lasting several months or more after initial infection, which raises questions about the long-term physical, mental and social health effects of COVID-19 in the pediatric population. The purpose of this review was to determine these impacts well into the second year of the pandemic. Methods: A search was conducted using PubMed, Web of Science, Science Direct, and Cochrane between 11/1/2019 and 9/1/2021. Search inclusion criteria were as follows: (1) COVID-19 illness and symptoms in children; (2) severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 in children; (3) English language; and (4) human studies only. Results: The few studies that have documented long-term physical symptoms in children show that fatigue, difficulty in concentrating (brain fog), sleep disturbances, and sensory problems are the most reported outcomes. Most studies examining the impact of COVID-19 in pediatric populations have focused on initial clinical presentation, and symptoms, which are similar to those in adult populations. In addition, COVID-19 has had a moderate impact on children and adolescents’ social environment, which may exacerbate current and future physiological, psychological, behavioral, and academic outcomes. Conclusions: There are limited studies reporting long physical symptoms of COVID-19 in the pediatric population. However, pediatric COVID-19 cases are underreported due to low rates of testing and symptomatic infection, which calls for more longitudinal studies. Children who have experienced COVID-19 illness should be monitored for long physiological, psychological, behavioral, and academic outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)149-159
Number of pages11
JournalWorld Journal of Pediatrics
Volume18
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Children
  • Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)
  • Long-COVID symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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