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Long-term effects of COVID-19 on children

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Some individuals have discovered they have new health concerns after beating the coronavirus. That goes for some children, too.

Almost 10,000 children from infant to age 19 have tested positive for COVID-19 in North Dakota.

“Fewer children than adults get hospitalized. We’re seeing definitely overall fewer getting long-term effects. So it’s going to be a long time before we have the numbers to tell us what the real long-term effects after COVID are,” said Danielle Thurtle, a Pediatric Hospitalist at Sanford Health Bismarck.

Dr. Thurtle says what they are seeing are post-infection issues that are very similar to those found after other viral infections like the flu and a cold.

“So we know many viruses and illnesses can cause some autoimmune diseases. Type 1 diabetes is one of those autoimmune diseases that we think is triggered by viral infections. COVID has been associated with new cases of Type 1 diabetes,” explained Dr. Thurtle.

Dr. Joan Connell, who is a Field Medical Officer and a physician, says she has seen some cases of children with asthma having issues getting their oxygen levels back to baseline after their mild COVID cases.

But she says there are treatments that kids 12 years or older, with certain medical conditions can have that could help them after their case.

“We think that reducing the injury to all of that body’s organs, by minimizing the disease process of COVID in the end will benefit patients and get them healthier and optimize their health faster,” said Dr. Connell.

Dr. Connell says long-term physical effects aren’t the only issue. So is mental health — for all children.

“The other components, the mental health effects, the weight gain, the consequences of isolation, those are the things I think we’re just at the tip of the iceberg here and it’s going to be significantly challenging,” explained Dr. Connell.

Dr. Connell says among adults, so-called “COVID long-haulers” are noticing improvements in their health since being vaccinated.

She says she hopes happens for children too, eventually.

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