Blood clots, heart problems, kidney failure: COVID creates higher risk of rare pediatric problems, new CDC study finds

Children and teens who have had COVID are at higher risk for blood clots, heart problems, kidney failure and type 1 diabetes, according to a new report released Thursday by US health officials.

Researchers from the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined the electronic health records of nearly 800,000 American children aged 0 to 17 with COVID from 2020 to 2022, and compared them to those of nearly 2.5 million children who had not been diagnosed with COVID during the same period.

They found that young people who had been diagnosed with COVID were about twice as likely to have a blood clot in the lungs and almost twice as likely to suffer from myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle; cardiomyopathy, a condition that makes it more difficult for the heart to function properly; or blood clots in the veins – within a year of their illness.

According to the study, they were also about 1.3 times more likely to suffer from kidney failure, as well as type 1 diabetes, an autoimmune disease that destroys the pancreas’s ability to make insulin.

Post-COVID conditions – defined as new or recurring health conditions that occur four weeks or more after infection with COVID, also called “long COVIDs” – are poorly understood. A myriad of efforts are underway to elucidate the condition or several conditions. But those studies focus primarily on adults, not children, according to the CDC.

COVID prevention strategies, including vaccination, are key to preventing COVID, post-COVID conditions, and COVID-related illnesses like MIS-C or Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in children. MIS-C patients recover fully from COVID, if they even had symptoms, and are well for four to 12 weeks before developing a rare, inflammatory-based disease that can be fatal.

Up to one in five American adults who have had COVID-19 are living with long COVID, US officials said recently. And an estimated 1 million Americans have been forced out of the workforce due to medical complications from the incipient disease.

An estimated 5% to 10% of children who have had COVID go on to develop long COVID, said Dr. Alexandra Brugler Yonts, infectious disease specialist at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, DC. Fortune in May.

“People are like, ‘Oh, it’s only 5%,’ but we’re talking about 1% death and it’s still a big deal,” she said.

At the bottom of that range are kids with “real long COVID, whatever that means,” she added. “We’re still figuring that out.”

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