Article Text

Characteristics and predictors of persistent symptoms post-COVID-19 in children and young people: a large community cross-sectional study in England
  1. Christina J Atchison1,2,
  2. Matthew Whitaker2,
  3. Christl A Donnelly2,3,4,
  4. Marc Chadeau-Hyam2,5,
  5. Steven Riley2,4,
  6. Ara Darzi1,6,
  7. Deborah Ashby2,
  8. Wendy Barclay7,
  9. Graham S Cooke1,7,8,
  10. Paul Elliott1,2,5,8,9,10,
  11. Helen Ward1,2,4,8
  1. 1 School of Public Health, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, London, UK
  2. 2 School of Public Health, Imperial College London, London, UK
  3. 3 Department of Statistics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  4. 4 MRC Centre for Global infectious Disease Analysis and Abdul Latif Jameel Institute for Disease and Emergency Analytics, Imperial College London, London, UK
  5. 5 Health Data Research (HDR) UK, Imperial College London, London, UK
  6. 6 Institute of Global Health Innovation, Imperial College London, London, UK
  7. 7 Department of Infectious Disease, Imperial College London, London, UK
  8. 8 National Institute for Health Research Imperial Biomedical Research Centre, Imperial College London, London, UK
  9. 9 MRC Centre for Environment and Health, Imperial College London, London, UK
  10. 10 UK Dementia Research Institute, Imperial College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Christina J Atchison, Imperial College London, London, SW7 2BX, UK; christina.atchison11{at}imperial.ac.uk

Abstract

Objective To estimate the prevalence of, and associated risk factors for, persistent symptoms post-COVID-19 among children aged 5–17 years in England.

Design Serial cross-sectional study.

Setting Rounds 10–19 (March 2021 to March 2022) of the REal-time Assessment of Community Transmission-1 study (monthly cross-sectional surveys of random samples of the population in England).

Study population Children aged 5–17 years in the community.

Predictors Age, sex, ethnicity, presence of a pre-existing health condition, index of multiple deprivation, COVID-19 vaccination status and dominant UK circulating SARS-CoV-2 variant at time of symptom onset.

Main outcome measures Prevalence of persistent symptoms, reported as those lasting ≥3 months post-COVID-19.

Results Overall, 4.4% (95% CI 3.7 to 5.1) of 3173 5–11 year-olds and 13.3% (95% CI 12.5 to 14.1) of 6886 12–17 year-olds with prior symptomatic infection reported at least one symptom lasting ≥3 months post-COVID-19, of whom 13.5% (95% CI 8.4 to 20.9) and 10.9% (95% CI 9.0 to 13.2), respectively, reported their ability to carry out day-to-day activities was reduced ‘a lot’ due to their symptoms. The most common symptoms among participants with persistent symptoms were persistent coughing (27.4%) and headaches (25.4%) in children aged 5–11 years and loss or change of sense of smell (52.2%) and taste (40.7%) in participants aged 12–17 years. Higher age and having a pre-existing health condition were associated with higher odds of reporting persistent symptoms.

Conclusions One in 23 5–11 year-olds and one in eight 12–17 year-olds post-COVID-19 report persistent symptoms lasting ≥3 months, of which one in nine report a large impact on performing day-to-day activities.

  • Covid-19
  • Adolescent Health
  • Epidemiology
  • Infectious Disease Medicine
  • Paediatrics

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Deidentified individual participant data (including data dictionaries) will be made available, in addition to study protocols, the statistical analysis plan and the informed consent form. The data will be made available on publication to researchers who provide a methodologically sound proposal for use in achieving the goals of the approved proposal. Proposals should be submitted to: react.lc.study@imperial.ac.uk.

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

Statistics from Altmetric.com

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Data availability statement

Data are available on reasonable request. Deidentified individual participant data (including data dictionaries) will be made available, in addition to study protocols, the statistical analysis plan and the informed consent form. The data will be made available on publication to researchers who provide a methodologically sound proposal for use in achieving the goals of the approved proposal. Proposals should be submitted to: react.lc.study@imperial.ac.uk.

View Full Text

Supplementary materials

Footnotes

  • Contributors CJA, HW, GSC and PE conceptualised and designed the study, coordinated and supervised data collection, drafted the initial manuscript and critically reviewed and revised the manuscript. MW, CAD and MC-H carried out the initial analyses, and critically reviewed and revised the manuscript. SR, WB, AD and DA conceptualised and designed the study and critically reviewed and revised the manuscript for important intellectual content. HW is guarantor.

  • Funding Our work on Long COVID is also being supported by grants from NIHR and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI): REACT GE (MR/V030841/1) and REACT Long COVID (REACT-LC) (COV-LT-0040).Our work on Long COVID is also being supported by grants from NIHR and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI): REACT GE (MR/V030841/1) and REACT Long COVID (REACT-LC) (COV-LT-0040).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.