COVID-19 in Children Photo: NPR.Org

Children hospitalised with COVID-19 may experience brain complications ─Study

*Experts say although children typically experience milder cases of the Coronavirus, it is yet important for consumers to know some of the risks of brain and nerve-related complications

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Researchers from the University of Liverpool, in the United Kingdom (UK), in a new study explored how severe childhood cases of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) infection may impact brain and nerve health.

ConsumerConnect gathered though severe Coronavirus infections are not common among younger people, yet the researchers say their results showed that one in 20 children hospitalised with the virus experience nerve or brain-related complications.

Dr. Stephen Ray, one of the researchers, stated: “The risk of a child being admitted to hospital due to COVID-19 is small, but among those hospitalised, brain and nerve complications occur in almost 4%.

“Our nationwide study confirms that children with the novel post-infection hyper-inflammatory syndrome PIMS-TS can have brain and nerve problems.”

The researchers also said: “But we have also identified a wide spectrum of neurological disorders in children due to COVID-19 who didn’t have PIMS-TS.

“These were often due to the child’s immune response after COVID-19 infection.”

In exploring the link between children’s brain health and COVID-19 for the study, the researchers analysed health outcomes from children who had been hospitalised with COVID-19 across the UK between April 2020 and January 2021.

In that time, over 1,330 children under the age of 18 were hospitalised with the virus, and more than 50 of those children experienced brain-related complications.

They also looked at how PIMS-TS ─ pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome temporarily associated with SARS-CoV-2 ─ played a role in children developing neurological complications following a COVID-19 infection.

PIMS-TS is a severe immune response to COVID-19 that occurs in children.

It typically results in prolonged symptoms like fever, fatigue, and headaches and can also affect the heart, gastrointestinal system and kidney function.

The researchers identified different neurological side effects in children with PIMS-TS and those without the condition.

Over 50% of the hospitalised children did not have PIMS-TS, but they still experienced brain and nerve-related complications, including psychosis, brain inflammation, Guillain-Barré syndrome, and seizures.

Children with PIMS-TS also had an increased risk of hallucinations, stroke, and changes in behaviour.

The researchers hope their study draws attention to the potential long-term complications associated with children contracting COVID-19.

According to the researchers, their goal going forward is to be able to better identify hospitalised children with brain and nerve complications, and provide them with the best quality of care.

“Now, we appreciate the capacity for COVID-19 to cause a wide range of brain complications in those children who are hospitalised with this disease, with the potential to cause life-long disability.

“We desperately need research to understand the immune mechanisms which drive this.

“Most importantly ─ how do we identify those children at risk and how should we treat them to prevent lasting brain injury?” Said researcher Dr. Benedict Michael.

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