CHOP Clinicians Closely Monitor Lingering Effects of COVID-19

Published on in CHOP News

As the SARS-COV-2 (COVID-19) virus continues to impact lives, clinical teams are closely monitoring the lingering effects of the virus following a patient’s initial infection. While some studies have looked at the prolonged respiratory symptoms that affect adults after initial infection, much is unknown about the long-term effects in pediatric patients.

In a new study recently published in the journal Pediatric Pulmonology, researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) and their colleagues reported on health data and respiratory findings with persistent respiratory symptoms following a COVID-19 infection. The researchers studied patients referred to the Pulmonary Clinic at CHOP between December 2020 and April 2021 with a history of a positive COVID-19 test or a confirmed diagnosis in their household and suggestive symptoms of infection.

Shoshana Leftin Dobkin, MD, and Sharon McGrath-Morrow, MD Shoshana Leftin Dobkin, MD, and Sharon McGrath-Morrow, MD Among the 29 patients included in the study, respiratory symptoms persisted from 1.3 to 6.7 months after initial infection. Shortness of breath, either persistent or as a result of exercise, was seen in nearly all (96.6%) of patients. About half of the patients had chronic cough and exercise intolerance. Fatigue was reported in 13.8% of the patients. More than half of the patients (62.1%) were overweight or obese and 11 patients had a prior history of asthma. However, spirometry and, when available, plethysmography breathing tests, were mostly normal in these patients.

“With more children becoming sick due to the delta variant of COVID-19, more research is urgently needed to determine the prevalence of the symptoms that we observed in this initial study,” said lead author Shoshana Leftin Dobkin, MD, a pediatric pulmonary medicine fellow in the Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine at CHOP. “We will need to follow patients like these over a long period of time to determine the long-term consequences of infection and what treatment options we may be able to offer.”

“It is important to note that most children will recover well from COVID-19,” said Sharon McGrath-Morrow, MD, associate chief of the Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine at CHOP.  “We offer outpatient services to provide further evaluation for the small cohort of children who continue to experience respiratory symptoms.”