Health warning to parents for children testing positive for Covid

GMB: Professor Susan Hopkins asked about symptoms of Covid

More than three years on since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic the long-term effects of infection are still being understood.

And with the arrival of new variants and the introduction of vaccines, the way the disease impacts people has continued to change.

However, a study from 2020 had already highlighted the dangers of children catching Covid.

After analysing the symptoms and health of children who contracted Covid in the early days of the pandemic, researchers in the US found that a “high proportion” had raised levels of a biomarker linked to vascular trauma – a blood vessel injury.

The study, published in the Blood Advances journal, examined how children’s cardiovascular health can change from the virus.

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To do so, scientists studied the data of 50 paediatric patients hospitalised with the infection between April and July 2020.

In a hospital release, Doctor David Teachey – of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, said: “Although most children with COVID-19 do not have severe disease, our study shows that there may be other effects of SARS-CoV-2 that are worthy of investigation.”

Of the 50 study participants, the researchers found that 21 found minimal to no symptoms.

A total of 11 suffered “severe” symptoms and 18 went on to develop alarming complications.

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But in all of them there were elevated levels of biomarkers for blood vessel damage.

Blood vessels are a vital part of our bodies used to carry nutrients and oxygen around the body, as well as transporting waste away from certain organs.

If they are damaged they can trigger potentially life-threatening blood clots, reduce blood flow and even result in “leaky” vessels.

It can also lead to inflammation, or swelling, in various parts of the body.

Moreover, 86 percent of the study participants were found to fit the criteria for a rare disease called thrombotic microangiopathy (TMA).

This had previously been connected to severe cases of Covid in adults and can cause clots in small vessels.

Dr Teachey added: “We do not yet know the clinical implications of this elevated biomarker in children with COVID-19 and no symptoms or minimal symptoms.

“We should continue testing for and monitoring children with SARS-CoV-2 so that we can better understand how the virus affects them in both the short and long term.”

“Future studies are needed to determine if hospitalised children with SARS-CoV-2 should be screened for TMA, if TMA-directed management is helpful, and if there are any short- or long-term clinical consequences of complement activation and endothelial damage in children with COVID-19 or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C).

“The most important takeaway from this study is we have more to learn about SARS-CoV-2. We should not make guesses about the short and long-term impact of infection.”

Common symptoms of Covid include:

  • A new, continuous cough
  • A loss or change to your sense of smell or taste
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling tired or exhausted
  • An aching body
  • A headache
  • A sore throat
  • A blocked or runny nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Diarrhoea
  • Feeling sick or being sick.

Most people recover within a few weeks, however, the NHS says you should visit A&E or call 999 if you or your child:

  • Seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there’s something seriously wrong – children and babies in particular can get unwell very quickly
  • Get sudden chest pain
  • Are so breathless you’re unable to say short sentences when resting or your breathing has suddenly got worse – in babies their stomach may suck in under their ribs
  • Start coughing up blood
  • Collapse, faint, or have a seizure or fit for the first time
  • Have a rash that does not fade when you roll a glass over it, the same as meningitis.

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