A recent study has suggested that Covid infection may increase the risk of stroke in children. A small study conducted in the US and published in the journal Pediatric Neurology reviewed medical charts and diagnosis codes to identify 16 hospitalized patients who had suffered an ischemic stroke between March 2020 and June 2021, shortly after the surge in pediatric cases of Covid. “It may be that hyperimmune response that comes later that causes kids to clot,” said MaryGlen J. Vielleux, a pediatric neurology resident at the University of Utah Health and lead author of the study. “In general, children have a relatively low risk for stroke, but there is a rare but real risk after Covid,” Vielleux said. (Also Read: Lung Covid In Kids: How Common It Is, Symptoms, Treatment And Everything You Want To Know)
According to dr. Kishore Kumar, Founder Chairman & Neonatologist, Cloudnine Group of Hospitals, Bangalore, says that while most children recovered from Covid infection without major problems, a minority of them developed symptoms and signs described as MIS-C (short for Multi Inflammatory System – Children) and newborn babies were affected as pregnant mothers became infected with MIS-N (Multi Inflammatory system – Newborn) disease.
Dr. Kumar says that MIS-C and MIS-N are multi-inflammatory systemic diseases, whether in children or newborns, and that the symptoms are caused by a covid-19 infection that triggers an inflammatory cascade that directs the manifestations of the disease – in children as a result of “direct infection” and in newborns as a result of indirect infection – where mothers have had covid-19 during infection and the mothers’ antibodies/markers of inflammation that cross the placenta cause inflammation in newborn babies.
“Either way, the manifestations are multisystem and not caused by other diseases or known infections,” says the expert.
“The covid-19 virus has variable characteristics, including transmission capacity and rate of infection, as well as short- and long-term consequences. While some people almost never have disabling symptoms, others continue to struggle with illness even after they recover. Even children affected by the Covid-19 virus have reported a range of experiences. While the majority of them are not as severely affected as adults, Covid-19 can cause a number of additional illnesses in children, even if they have little or no no symptoms beforehand. Some conditions are not serious and may go away on their own. While some are more serious and may require medical attention,” says Dr. Amit Gupta, Senior Consultant Pediatrician & Neonatologist, Motherhood Hospital, Noida.
Here are ways Covid has affected children’s health:
1. Intestinal bleeding, leg pain, abdominal pain
“The most common we’ve seen are the blood manifestations — children suddenly develop either excessive clotting or poor clotting due to elevated inflammatory markers that cause manifestations due to clots — such as leg pain, abdominal pain that persists despite all tests to determine the cause of these pains negatively and eventually we realize that it is mini clots in the blood vessels supplying the various organs including increased incidence of pancreatitis or bleeding manifestations due to poor clotting including intestinal bleeding,” says Dr Kishore Kumar.
Multisystem inflammatory syndrome, a rare childhood complication caused by Covid-19, can cause inflammation of some organs and tissues, including the brain, heart, lungs, blood vessels, kidneys, digestive system, skin and eyes.
“Coronavirus, like other viral illnesses such as some types of flu, has the potential to directly infect and damage heart muscle tissue. In addition, the response of the body’s immune system can indirectly damage and inflame the heart. If your child shows symptoms such as fever after contracting COVID-19 for no apparent reason, along with one or more of the symptoms such as abdominal pain, rash, vomiting, diarrhoea, bloodshot eyes, you should consult your pediatrician,” says Dr Amit Gupta
3. Heart problems
“Another common thing we’ve seen is that the heart is affected in different ways. Many children showed dilation of the blood vessels supplying the heart – some went away after several weeks, some persisted for several months – careful monitoring and treatment require if necessary. Some children even developed myocarditis, i.e. inflammation of the heart. Most of these resolved over a period of months,” says Dr Kumar.
4. Breathing problems
“Due to the fact that Covid-19 mostly affects the lungs, persistent respiratory symptoms are common. Chest pain, coughing, and increased difficulty breathing during exercise are some. Some of these symptoms may persist for three months or more. Pulmonary function tests may be needed are for children ages 6 and older with persistent symptoms. To rule out complications such as blood clots, children with exercise-induced breathing problems that do not go away may need heart tests,” says Dr. Gupta.
5. Brain problems such as headaches, convulsions, hallucinations
“Many children developed brain manifestations – headaches, convulsions, and few had hallucinations – and most of them disappeared within weeks,” says Dr Kumar.
6. Behavioral problems and mental health
“A child’s mental health and behavior can be affected by having Covid-19. Events related to Covid-19, such as isolation, treatment, medication, absence of playtime with friends and school activities, can exacerbate symptoms in children who already have mental or behavioral disorders.” Some children may also become irritable and moody. Your child’s pediatrician can examine your child for indications of depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems, as well as indicate when your child may need additional help,” says Dr. Gupta.
7. Persistent fever
“Another common manifestation we saw was persistent fever in children with a cough – they did not respond to antibiotics and cough medicines – many of them required steroids to control the cough – many children were almost acting like children with asthma,” says Dr Kumar.
8. Loss of appetite, energy
“Many children had no specific symptoms, but had a loss of appetite, loss of energy and fatigue that lasted for several weeks to months,” says Dr Kumar.
“Adults who have had Covid-19 often complain of confusion, difficulty remembering and concentrating. Teenagers and children may have the same symptoms. Your child may seem more forgetful or have trouble focusing. They may need more repetition and pauses during learn because they read more slowly.Since stress can exacerbate these symptoms, make sure your child gets enough sleep and helps him control them.Your child may benefit from team therapy, take regular breaks between study sessions and rehabilitation plan as post -Covid psychiatric exhaustion is not getting better or hindering daily activities,” says Dr. Gupta.
9. Physical exhaustion
“It has been observed that children become tired quickly and an overall drop in energy levels after being infected with the Covid-19 virus. It normally gets better over time. A gradual increase in exercise may be suggested by your child’s pediatrician If the symptoms don’t get better after trying, they may suggest seeing a physiotherapist or other expert,” says Dr. Gupta.
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