In the second wave of COVID, symptoms of Long COVID and MIS-C i.e. Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome were also seen in children.
While long COVID does not directly cause serious illness, MIS-C can be extremely dangerous and fatal.
FIT spoke to leading Paediatricians in Gurugram, Bangalore, and Mumbai to decode long COVID and MIS-C in kids.
How Do You Identify Long COVID-19 in Kids?
When FIT asked this question to Dr Maninder Singh Dhaliwal, Associate Director, Paediatrics, Medanta Gurugram, he replied, “Long COVID in children is not yet well-defined. But it can be said that the COVID infection which continues for more than 4 weeks should be considered as long COVID."
"Long COVID can affect any part of the body such as stomach, brain, bone, heart, respiratory system or any other organ. Long COVID can be treated only by the prescribed doctor on the basis of symptoms."Dr Maninder Singh Dhaliwal, Associate Director, Pediatrics, Medanta Gurugram
"Omicron has a hundred percent chance of leading to long COVID which will be detected in February or March," he also added.
Symptoms of Long COVID in Children
On the other hand, according to Dr Krishna Chughu, director and HOD, Paediatrics, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, "Generally more than 12 weeks of COVID related symptoms in a child should be labelled as long COVID."
Some of the most common symptoms of long COVID in children are,
Inability to play/exercise/cycling/running
Poor academic performance
Difficulty in breathing
Loss of smell and taste
"Parents should pay special attention to new symptoms or any other problem in a COVID infected child for 90 days. As soon as new symptoms are detected, contact the doctor."Dr Jaisal Sheth, Senior Consultant-Pediatrician, Fortis Hospital, Mulund, Mumbai
Are Some Kids More Likely To Develop Long COVID?
Long COVID can occur in any child who has been infected with the COVID virus.
According to the experts, many children who went on to develop symptoms of long COVID had either very mild illness or no symptoms at first, but were COVID RT-PCR or antibody positive.
Although there is no conclusive evidence to suggest which factors may put one at risk of developing long COVID, experts seem to think that high risk patients with comorbidities generally have a higher risk.
“Children suffering from serious diseases like cancer, thalassemia, diabetes, leukemia, HIV are also more likely to have long COVID because their immune system is weak, due to which the recovery of COVID infection can take time i.e. long COVID condition."Dr Yogesh Kumar Gupta, Head of Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Fortis Hospital, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore
How To Care For a Long COVID Infected Child?
Long COVID does not directly threaten the life of the children, but it can impact the overall health and wellbeing of the children affected.
Their education, sports, mental health and routine start deteriorating.
Some advice given by the doctor for the care of long COVID infected children are as follows:
Give them medication as directed by the pediatrician
Feed them nutritious food
Make sure they're well hydrated
Encourage them to exercise if they are able to, without exerting themselves
Spending more time with your kids can be comforting for them
If left untreated, mild symptoms can sometimes turn severe over time, which can harm the child.
"Long COVID is not being given much attention in our country. Unless the child has a fever or shows some serious symptoms, the family members do not contact the doctor. Do not do this. Check for new mild or severe symptoms in your child. Contact your doctor as soon as you know."Dr Maninder Singh Dhaliwal, Associate Director, Pediatrics, Medanta Gurugram
MIS-C Stands for Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome
In the second wave of COVID-19, MIS-C has been observed in certain children after 4 weeks of COVID infection, and in some cases it can be a serious and dangerous disease.
Some of the symptoms that are seen in MIS-C are:
Fever over 102o Celcius
Reddening of the body
Low blood pressure
Typically Children between the ages of zero and twenty one years of age are at risk of MIS-C.
Parents should pay special attention to the symptoms after their children contract the COVID-19 virus. Contact the doctor as soon as you see any new or serious symptoms.
According to experts, the risk of MIS-C remains only 2 percent after children get the COVID vaccine.
One thing that all the experts we soke to agreed upon was that at present, the cases of COVID are increasing very fast in children, but they have not seen any serious patients yet.
So far we don't have any data on patients with long COVID in the country, especially among kids. We will have to wait and see how many children are getting infected with Long COVID and MIS-C, and the degree to which it will manifest in them.