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COVID-19 pediatric problems have been similar to those for adults, including medical, neurological, sensory and psychological conditions, although they have typically been less prevalent and severe. The lesser severity in children may relate to their less mature viral receptors, less dysregulation of immune responses, and a lesser incidence of pre-existing comorbid conditions. This narrative review is a summary of publications found on PubMed for 2019-2021 on the prevalence of infection and the characteristics of the clinical condition that has predominated for children (multisystem inflammatory syndrome typically presenting with fever and cough in 1-5% of children between the ages of 1 and 14). Most of the extra-pulmonary symptom literature has focused on neurological, sensory and psychological conditions including headaches and loss of smell and taste as well as skin problems. The research on psychological symptoms has noted helplessness, worry and fear as well as more serious problems including anxiety, depression, PTSD symptoms and suicidal ideation. These problems have been attributed to less exercise, separation from schools and peers, over-exposure to social media, already existing psychiatric disorders and chronic illnesses that have been exacerbated by COVID-19. Methodological limitations of the literature include small sample, cross-sectional studies assessing single variables in countries that experienced lockdowns early in the pandemic. And, sequelae or post-COVID problems have rarely been researched.
This narrative review was intended to be a brief overview of publications on medical, neurological, sensory and psychological problems that children and adolescents have experienced during COVID-19. The review is based on some of the larger sample studies and systematic reviews that appeared on PubMed for the years 2019-2021. The terms pediatrics, children, adolescents and COVID-19 were entered and the search yielded 173 papers. Inclusion criteria were peer-reviewed studies and systematic reviews. Case reports and non-English papers were excluded. Following these criteria, 57 papers were selected. The resulting review that reflects the current literature includes prevalence data, clinical characteristics and potential underlying mechanisms. Consistent with the aims of this review, the paper is divided into sections on medical, neurological, sensory and psychological conditions as well as COVID-19 sequelae.
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