Most children and adolescents are spared from severe COVID-19, but among those who do require hospitalization, temporary neurologic effects are common, researchers found.
In their study of 1,695 patients age 21 or younger hospitalized for COVID-19 or a COVID-19-related illness known as multisystem inflammatory syndrome, 365 – or 22% – had neurologic complications, including 43 (12%) with life-threatening neurologic disorders such as strokes and central nervous system infections.
Other neurologic effects included seizures, headache, weakness, loss of smell and taste, and altered awareness or confusion. Neurologic involvement in most patients was transient and resolved by the time they left the hospital, according to a report published on Friday in JAMA Neurology.
Because they only studied hospitalized children, the range and rate of such complications may be an underestimate of the actual issue, the authors said.
They said more research is needed both to determine the true incidence and to track these children over the long term.