Coronavirus Chronicles — Let’s Make Sure Kids Don’t Catch This

In protecting children from obesity, one of the strongest moves is to protect them from COVID-19, which can put a serious cramp in the lifestyle of a previously active child. The numbers of truly frightening cases might not be that large, but the bad ones are awfully bad.

As long ago as last July, when most Americans thought that kids were immune, a journal called Brain announced that a small number of COVID-19 patients had delirium, brain inflammation, and a real serious condition known as acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, and “younger people are experiencing these brain-related issues due to strokes experienced during infection. ”

In the same week, down in Palm Beach County, Florida, health department director Alina Alonso informed the county commissioners that “the long-term consequences of coronavirus in children are unknown.” The word was going around, about children who were asymptomatic or who ostensibly experienced a very mild course of illness, but who turned out to have sustained lung damage.

Similar cases elsewhere

Early last year, 11-year-old Ethan Kaplan showed only mild symptoms until a bout of desperate chest pain sent him to the emergency room. He tested positive for the virus, and his blood pressure was low, but he was not hospitalized. In mid-May, he tested negative. But even in September, when Megan E. Doherty wrote about him, “the former competitive athlete who regularly participated in basketball, baseball, karate, and golf can now barely walk around the neighborhood.”

Doherty wrote about a seven-year-old boy who had been sick for more than four months with “exhaustion, intermittent low-grade fevers, sore throat, coughing, enlarged lymph nodes, painful limbs, insomnia, and mysterious splotchy skin that comes and goes.” Her publisher communicated with 28 different families whose children were in some kind of “limbo” — not sick enough to be in imminent danger, but far from well.

The youngest child, nine months old, was Brooke, the daughter of registered nurse Alicia Gaffney. Mother and baby had both been sick for months, with not only coughing and wheezing but bloody nasal mucous and diarrhea. The journalist wrote,

Her daughter also has dark veins, something she had noticed on herself. “I’ve posted on the support group that I’m on. I asked the other moms if that’s happening to their kids, and they’re posting photos of their little two-year-olds and three-year-olds getting these dark veins on their bodies.”

Ashley Zlatopolsky wrote about 12-year-old Samantha, who had been acutely sick with COVID-19 in February for a week. In November, she reported that the child…

[…] continues to have gastrointestinal relapses to this day. Her stomach pain, which includes severe reflux and nausea, hasn’t gone away…

Zlatopolsky also contacted Nick Hysmith, M.D., of Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital who explained that…

[…] for kids like Samantha whose symptoms persist 10 months after first contracting the virus, many questions remain unanswered, including whether the cause is in fact MIS-C or if they’re in the same mysterious boat as adult Covid “long-haulers.”

The point here is, whatever words become attached to the problem, a certain number of kids stay sick for a long time, and can easily slide into inactivity and obesity.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “How the Coronavirus May Attack the Brain,”, 07/08/20
Source: “Almost one-third of Florida children tested are positive for the coronavirus,”, 07/15/20
Source: “When Children’s Covid-19 Symptoms Won’t Go Away,”, 09/20/20 Source: “Children Are Covid-19 Long-Haulers, Too,”, 11/11/20
Image by Phil Roeder/CC BY 2.0

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OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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