Sci Rep 12 (1) 9950 [2022-06-23; online 2022-06-23]
The objective of this systematic review and meta-analyses is to estimate the prevalence of long-COVID in children and adolescents and to present the full spectrum of symptoms present after acute COVID-19. We have used PubMed and Embase to identify observational studies published before February 10th, 2022 that included a minimum of 30 patients with ages ranging from 0 to 18 years that met the National Institute for Healthcare Excellence (NICE) definition of long-COVID, which consists of both ongoing (4 to 12 weeks) and post-COVID-19 (≥ 12 weeks) symptoms. Random-effects meta-analyses were performed using the MetaXL software to estimate the pooled prevalence with a 95% confidence interval (CI). Heterogeneity was assessed using I2 statistics. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviewers and Meta-analysis (PRISMA) reporting guideline was followed (registration PROSPERO CRD42021275408). The literature search yielded 8373 publications, of which 21 studies met the inclusion criteria, and a total of 80,071 children and adolescents were included. The prevalence of long-COVID was 25.24%, and the most prevalent clinical manifestations were mood symptoms (16.50%), fatigue (9.66%), and sleep disorders (8.42%). Children infected by SARS-CoV-2 had a higher risk of persistent dyspnea, anosmia/ageusia, and/or fever compared to controls. Limitations of the studies analyzed include lack of standardized definitions, recall, selection, misclassification, nonresponse and/or loss of follow-up, and a high level of heterogeneity.