Long-term central nervous system (CNS) consequences of COVID-19 in children

Saskia Saskia Howe de la Torre, Valeria Parlatini, Samuele Cortese

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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Neurological/neuropsychiatric symptoms are commonly reported by children/young people with long COVID, especially headache, fatigue, cognitive deficits, anosmia and ageusia, dizziness, mood symptoms, and sleep problems. However, reported prevalence estimates are highly variable due to study heterogeneity and often small sample size; most studies only considered short-term follow-ups; and, apart from mood and sleep problems, neuropsychiatric conditions have received less attention. Considering the potential debilitating effects of neurological/neuropsychiatric conditions, a comprehensive review of the topic is timely, and needed to support clinical recognition as well as to set the direction for future research.

Areas covered
The authors discuss neurological/neuropsychiatric manifestations of long COVID in pediatric populations, with a focus on prevalence, associated demographic characteristics, and potential pathogenetic mechanisms.

Expert opinion
Children/young people may develop persistent neurological/neuropsychiatric symptoms following acute SARS‐CoV‐2 infection, which may affect daily functioning and well-being. Studies in larger samples with longer follow-ups are needed to clarify prevalence and symptom duration; as well as less investigated risk factors, including genetic predisposition, ethnicity, and comorbidities. Controlled studies may help separate infection-related direct effects from pandemic-related psychosocial stressors. Clarifying pathogenetic mechanisms is paramount to develop more targeted and effective treatments; whilst screening programs and psychoeducation may enhance early recognition.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)703-720
Number of pages18
JournalExpert Review of Neurotherapeutics
Issue number8
Early online date7 Aug 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023

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