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Jacksonville pediatrician: Children, like adults, are experiencing long-term effects of COVID-19

Doctors say long-term complications include fatigue, muscle pain

While severe illness from COVID-19 is rare among children, the number of hospitalizations is going up. As scientists continue to race to create an approved vaccine for children, parents want more information on the potential long-term impact that Covid 19 has on people under the age of 12.
While severe illness from COVID-19 is rare among children, the number of hospitalizations is going up. As scientists continue to race to create an approved vaccine for children, parents want more information on the potential long-term impact that Covid 19 has on people under the age of 12.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – As scientists continue to race to create an approved COVID-19 vaccine for children, parents want more information on the potential long-term impact that COVID-19 has on people under the age of 12.

Fatigue, breathlessness, chest pains and trouble swallowing are just a few of the common lingering effects.

A local doctor says there’s a misconception about children.

“Kids do get sick. They do get into the hospital, they do get admitted to the ICU, they do get incubated, they do get on the respirator,” said Dr. Mobeen Rathore, a pediatrician at UF Health Jacksonville. “And they do die often, much less, but they do, so I think we need to clarify that first and foremost.”

Rathore describes COVID-19 as an equal opportunity infector, saying children don’t get as sick as adults, but they do contract the coronavirus -- sometimes unknowingly. Rathore says that just like adults, children are experiencing some long-term complications.

″I think those long-term complications that we know of are you get brain fog, you don’t feel good, maybe your muscles are aching, you can’t do things, you don’t have energy. These are just some of the things we know,” Rathore said. “There are other things that may affect your brain.”

Other long-term complications for children, according to doctors, include fatigue, trouble swallowing, breathlessness, insomnia, chest pains, muscle pain, diarrhea, trouble swallowing and cold-like complaints.

Rathore says underlying conditions like high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity only increase the risk of children experiencing every symptom from COVID-19. He points out that the terminology “long-term effects” has a much different meaning for children.

“If I get COVID and I get long-term complications of COVID, if I’m lucky, I may have to deal with it for 10 or 20 years. But if a 5-year-old gets it, the 5-year-old may have to deal with it for 80 years, 90 years,” Rathore said. “So you can imagine, they have a much worse scenario they face.”

Rathore says because children are often asymptomatic, it’s common for them to start experiencing long-term effects weeks after they were originally infected and that’s when the children and their parents become aware of the initial infection. He also says that there are a lot of things that doctors still don’t know because the coronavirus is only 19 months old.


About the Author:

Tarik anchors the 4, 5:30 and 6:30 p.m. weekday newscasts and reports with the I-TEAM.