Mental health among children with long COVID during the COVID-19 pandemic

Iris Shachar-Lavie*, Maayan Shorer, Hila Segal, Silvana Fennig, Liat Ashkenazi-Hoffnung

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A growing number of studies report that persons of all ages, infected with SARS-CoV-2, may experience long-term persistent symptoms, known as long COVID (LC) or post COVID-19 condition. This is one of the first studies examining the consequences of LC on children’s mental health. In this case–control study, we compared select mental health aspects of 103 children diagnosed with LC to a control group of 113 children uninfected with SARS-COV-2; all 4–18 years old. Both groups were assessed via parents’ questionnaires. In comparison to the control group, children with LC exhibited more memory difficulties. However, no group differences emerged in other functional aspects (connection with friends and engagement in physical activities), problems with concentration, or levels of emotional-behavioral problems (externalizing, internalizing, ADHD, and PTSD symptoms). We also found that children with LC had greater exposure to COVID-19-related stressors. Higher levels of parental worries regarding their children’s functioning and economic difficulties at home significantly predicted higher levels of children’s emotional-behavioral problems and were better predictors than the child’s age, social functioning, or LC diagnosis. Conclusion: LC was associated with impairments in some aspects of children’s memory which may relate to academic functioning, but not with higher rates of emotional-behavioral problems, thus warranting interventional programs addressing school functioning and cognitive abilities in this population. Additionally, parents’ economic stress and worries regarding their child’s emotional adjustment during the pandemic, are important factors affecting pandemic-related emotional-behavioral problems among children, regardless of COVID-19 infection, that should be addressed.What is Known:• Children may have long COVID (LC) after being infected with SARS-COV-2.What is New:• LC may be associated to impairments in some aspects of children’s memory, as reported by parents.• Parents' economic stress and worries concerning their children’s emotional adjustment during the pandemic are associated with more distress in their children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1793-1801
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Pediatrics
Volume182
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2023

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Long COVID
  • Post-traumatic stress
  • Psychosocial adjustment

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