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Saturday, May 21, 2022

Children’s learning ability at risk over long Covid, says virologist


Parents should ensure their children aged five to 12 are vaccinated against Covid-19, says virologist Kumitaa Theva Das.

GEORGE TOWN: A child’s learning ability can be impacted by long Covid, an academic has warned.

Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Kumitaa Theva Das said cognitive dysfunction was of concern as recent international reports showed that one in every four children infected could get long Covid.

Cognitive dysfunction or brain fog is one of the 200-odd symptoms of Covid-19.

“It was previously thought that children are less vulnerable to Covid-19. However, they are now at greater risk with the BA.2 Omicron variant’s higher transmissibility,” she told FMT.

The US, which had previously said 17% of its children had been infected with Covid-19, recently discovered that the actual cases were closer to 70%.

 Kumitaa Theva Das.

Kumitaa said children in Malaysia made up about 10% to 15% of daily cases but that the exact number might be higher.

Advising parents to ensure their children aged five to 12 were vaccinated, she said it would prevent school-going children from suffering learning difficulties due to brain fog.

She said long Covid could be present in children from a month to about three months after an infection, even in asymptomatic cases.

While long Covid varied in children, it could be similar to that suffered by adults, ranging from severe fatigue to shortness of breath, persistent headaches, difficulty in concentrating and even impaired sleep.

“This can affect their physical, mental and social well-being. For example, imagine being great at sports but not being able to do that anymore because you have difficulty breathing.

“Or what if you were previously a straight-A student, but now your head constantly hurts. You don’t have the same life as you once did.

“The worst part is that it may affect them for months. So children who can get vaccinated should get vaccinated right away,” she said.

On newer diseases cropping up, such as Kawasaki, a multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) and hepatitis, Kumitaa said parents should pay equal importance in noting the symptoms. Those with Kawasaki would have swollen hands and feet, high fever, rashes, inflamed lips and red eyes.

She said MIS-C caused problems mainly in the gut, such as stomach pains, vomiting, and diarrhoea, while hepatitis could be easily spotted through jaundiced skin.

She urged parents of children with such symptoms to seek medical attention. - FMT

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