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The National Institutes of Health has begun a long-term study of the effects of COVID-19 on children and young adults.

Researchers will follow 1,000 children and young adults ages 3-21 who have tested positive for the coronavirus. The study will look at the effects on physical and mental health, including their development and immune responses to the virus.

“Although we know that children are vulnerable to COVID-19, we still do not have a clear picture of how COVID-19 affects them in the long term,” Anthony Fauci, MD, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a statement.

The study is supported by Fauci’s institute under the National Institutes of Health. Researchers have enrolled their first participant at the NIH Clinical Center in Bethesda, aleve dictionary definition MD.

“In adult patients, the long-term sequelae of COVID, including post-acute COVID-19, can significantly affect quality of life,” Fauci said. “Our investigations into the pediatric population will deepen our understanding of the public health impact that the pandemic has had and will continue to have in the months and years to come.”

The U.S. has reported more than 6 million COVID-19 cases in children during the pandemic. Although kids are less likely to have a severe illness, many children have had significant short-term and long-term effects, the NIH said. Children can also get inflammatory symptoms that can affect multiple organs, which has been called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C.

The study will track the long-term health effects of COVID-19 and try to find the risk factors that lead to complications, the NIH said. Researchers will also evaluate the long-term immune responses to the virus, screen for genetic factors that could affect how children respond to the virus, and find out if immunological factors affect long-term outcomes.

Children may be eligible to take part in the study if they tested positive for COVID-19 in the past, even if they didn’t have symptoms, the NIH said. Participants will receive a full physical exam and full medical history. Household members who didn’t get COVID-19 may also be asked to enroll as part of the control arm of the study.

Children must have consent from parents or guardians to enroll. During follow-up visits, participants will get additional scans, questionnaires, and methods for tracking health, development, and quality of life. The researchers think the study will take about 6 years to complete, the NIH said.

Additional details are available at ClinicalTrials.gov.

Sources

The Hill: “NIH long-term study on children who had COVID-19 enrolls first participant.”

National Institutes of Health: “Long-term study of children with COVID-19 begins.”

ClinicalTrials.gov: “NCT04830852: Pediatric COVID-19 and MIS-C Long-term Follow-up.”

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