Coronavirus Chronicles — Hitting Kids Hard

Girls Basketball with Face Masks

Almost a year ago Dr. Sanjay Gupta, in the role of medical correspondent for CNN, reported on Dr. Christian Sandrock, who assesses patients at the UC Davis School of Medicine Post-COVID-19 Clinic.​ This is an extremely complicated job, because symptoms are not consistent even within the same victim. One day the toes are attacked, the next day the eyes.

This is a good opportunity to quote another expert, Dr. Eleftherios Mylonakis of Brown University who says, “The immune response can include all the organ systems in the body.” When it gets riled up about an intruder like the coronavirus,​ the defensive apparatus can also exacerbate an existing condition or create a new medical problem that will stick around indefinitely.

Many a long-term illness can be somewhat adjusted to, and the patient can become grudgingly accustomed to living with it. But not when the location of the pain and the extent of the disability change all the time! The uncertainty of long COVID is infuriating and exhausting.​

Two mutually supportive pandemics

Childhood Obesity News has been looking at the reality that not only do children get COVID, they also get Long COVID. Since the virus is attracted to body fat, it could be that obese children are at extra risk; and it is certain that kids with PASC (post-acute sequelae SARS-CoV-2 infection) are more likely to develop obesity. Like adults, kids with post-acute COVID fall victim to exercise intolerance and profound fatigue.​

In October of 2021, journalist Ryan Prior interviewed Jamie Richmond and her two teenage daughters, Veronica and Audrey, who all caught the virus, at a point in history where one out of 10 cases in the U.S. involved children — and furthermore, “it’s likely underreported because it relied on state data that is inconsistently collected.”​ Prior wrote,

Both girls now have a host of problems, including postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, which causes a person’s heart rate to shoot up upon standing and lead to dizziness or fainting.

This is not the ideal situation for exercising off any extra calories.

At DePaul University in Chicago, researchers have been separately interviewing adults and children afflicted by the long-haul version of the disease. The leader of the team is Professor Leonard Jason, who specializes in the study of post-viral symptoms in similar contagions. After mononucleosis, for instance, many young people go on to develop chronic fatigue syndrome. Dr. Jason is quoted as saying,

If you look at all the pandemics from the Spanish flu on down, a certain number of people never get better. At least 10% six months later seem to still be having symptoms. With Covid-19, I think the rates could be very much higher.

Amy Frentheway and her children (15,13, and 11) all had COVID-19 whose symptoms included “bone-crushing fatigue.” The mother told the reporter,

My kids have that same thing now too, with lots of brain fog. Some days they wake up and just go back to bed.

Families feel underserved and sometimes even ignored by a swamped medical system that is still looking for answers itself, and is unable to tell them if or when the horror will end. They find validation and moral support in online groups where they can share their experiences and, if not receive tangible help, at least be reassured that they are not alone in this bewildering and seemingly hopeless nightmare.

A 13-year-old basketball star Joeyanna Hodnett’s father was sick with COVID for a few weeks, while her mother tested positive but was asymptomatic. The teenager herself experienced “chest pain, muscle aches, headaches, burning skin sensations and an inability to move her arms and legs.” Then she started fainting, which is never a desirable trait in an athlete, even one who can move their limbs. After a few days in the hospital and consultations with a wide range of specialists, and despite taking 18 pills every day, the girl who used to be able to run seven miles was still unable to walk for more than 10 minutes at a time.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Almost a third of people with ‘mild’ Covid-19 still battle symptoms months later, study finds,” CNN.com, 02/19/21
Source: “Patients With Long Covid Face Lingering Worrisome Health Risks, Study Finds,” NYTimes.com, 04/22/21
​Source: “Kids struggle with Covid-19 and its months of aftermath,” CNN.com, 10/12/21
Image by Foxcroft Academy/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:

Presentations

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.

Food & Health Resources