By: Peter Rowe, MD, FAAP

Most kids and teens who test positive for COVID-19 have mild, or even no, symptoms. But it has become clear that some are experiencing symptoms more than a month after they’ve been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

A number of post-COVID conditions have been identified in kids. Most notable are continued or recurring symptoms referred to as “long-haul COVID,” or sometimes as “long COVID” or “Post-Acute COVID-19.” Research on this condition continues.

Who gets long-haul COVID?

No one is certain exactly how many people who’ve had COVID-19 end up being long haulers. One study showed that as many as 52% of teens and young adults between ages 16 and 30 may experience lingering symptoms 6 months after having COVID. The U.K. Office for National Statistics estimated that 12.9% of children 2 to 11 years of age, and 14.5% of children 12 to 16 years old, still experienced symptoms 5 weeks after infection. 

What experts do know is that long-haul COVID can happen even in people who had mild or no symptoms of COVID-19. The symptoms they had during the acute infection may not go away, even long after their infection is gone. Sometimes, long-haul COVID symptoms start after a person is feeling better. Or, if they were asymptomatic (didn’t have COVID symptoms), they may experience them weeks later. Any of these symptoms can be new and different, or they may be the same as the ones your child had during the COVID infection.