What we Know and Don’t Know About Pediatric Long-COVID
Mrs. Adams was honored to be a panelist at a recent two-day conference on the impact of Long-COVID on kids. The conference focused on assisting school psychologists and other professionals in evaluating and helping students who may be impacted by this condition. It included experts from across the United States and even from Italy. Understandably, there is still a lot we don’t know, but we have come a long way in understanding this condition. Here are a few highlights from the conference:
- Long-COVID is real.Children are being mislabeled with “school avoidance”, or are told their symptoms are “all in their head”. Symptoms are varied, but include headaches, “brain fog”, constant fatigue, rashes, stomach aches, anxiety, depression and sleep problems. It might impact multiple organ systems, like the heart, lungs and brain. Long-COVID occurs more in older children than in youngsters; children who caught the Delta variant are more likely to suffer from Long-COVID than those who caught Omicron. It is unclear how may children have Long-COVID and how long the symptoms linger. The affects are similar to those of chronic fatigue syndrome or mono and can impact children even if they only had mild symptoms during their initial COVID-19 exposure.
- Children from modest-income or ethnic minority households are likely disproportionately impacted. Although the experts did not have direct data to support this, they think Long-COVID hits hardest in children from modest-income or minority communities. A disproportionately high percentage of Blacks, Latinos and American Indian communities experienced higher rates of COVID-19 illness and death. Therefore, the experts believe that children from these communities are also more likely to have undiagnosed Long-COVID.
- School psychologists want to help.But they do not have current test procedures or other accurate assessment tools. The same is true for many pediatricians. As a result, many students are not getting the school accommodations and services that they need. For example, instead of allowing them to attend school for ½ day (generally, they are more alert in the afternoon), students with Long-COVID are still in virtual settings or Home Hospital programs.
- There is good news.There are a handful of pediatric Long-COVID centers in the United States, and one of them is right here in our backyard. The Long COVID Recovery Care Clinic at Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles is an excellent resource if you believe your child may have Long-COVID. It is one of only a few hospitals in the country that offers pediatric long-haul COVID care. Our office contacted the clinic and confirmed that they are still open and accepting patients as of the date of this blog.
If your child has lingering Long-COVID symptoms that are impacting their every day activities such as class attendance and focus on school work, athletics or even hanging out with friends, you may want to check with their pediatrician and research the Long COVID Care Clinic at Children’s Hospital. Parents may also request reasonable accommodations from your child’s school district or charter school. As a last measure, ADAMS ESQ attorneys and advocates may also be able to assist if you are unable to get help from your child’s school.