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COVID-19 may lead to brain nerve damage in kids, AIIMS reports two cases

The possibility of brain nerve damage in kids due to COVID-19 infection may be very real, according to AIIMS doctors. Read on to know more.

Usual symptoms of COVID-19 in adult patients include fever, tiredness, muscle ache and a dry cough. But, in children, similar symptoms may not show up. Their symptoms may be very different from adult patients. According to experts, the most common symptoms of coronavirus in children are fatigue, headache and fever. A few pediatric patients go on to develop a cough or lose their sense of taste or smell also. Many children also experience sore throats, loss of appetite, unusual skin rash, and diarrhea. Some experts have also pointed at the possibility of neurological symptoms in children after COVID-19 infection. Such neurological symptoms are reported in many adult patients of this viral disease. But, in children, it is not an established fact. But new cases in India's premier medical establishment may point at the fact that neurological impact of COVID-19 may be present in kids too.

Recently, a COVID-19 teenage girl was admitted at AIIMS for treatment of floss of vision. She is currently undergoing treatment in the premier medical institute for the same and doctors treating her are trying to determine if her condition was a complication of COVID-19. The doctors in the child neurology division are preparing a report on her health condition that they plan to publish soon. According to a draft of the report, doctors identified COVID-19 infection-induced Acute Demyelinating Syndrome (ADS) in an 11-year-old girl. This is the first such case that has been reported in the paediatric age group.

ADS diagnosed in COVID-positive 11-year-old

The nerves of our body are covered with a protective layer called the myelin sheath. This helps messages from the brain move quickly and smoothly through the body. ADS is a health condition that leads to damage of the myelin, which disrupts brain signals and lead to other neurological symptoms like loss of vision, muscle movement, senses, bladder and bowel movement, etc. The teenage patient complained of loss of vision at the time of admission. Her MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) showed ADS, which is a new manifestation. However, COVID-19 is usually associated with symptoms of the brain and the lungs. So, researchers decided to conduct further tests to verify if this condition was COVID related. Doctors say that she responded positively to immunotherapy and regained almost 50 per cent of her vision after treatment. She has since been discharged from hospital.

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13-year-old COVID-positive teenager admitted with encephalopathy

Another case involving a COVID-19-positive 13-year-old teenager is also being studied by doctors at AIIMS. She was admitted after she complained of fever and encephalopathy (swelling of brain) and is currently undergoing treatment. Here also, doctors are trying to determine if her condition is a complication of COVID-19. Earlier, researchers had established that epilepsy, encephalitis, Kawasaki-like disease and Guillain-barre syndrome are some complications that COVID-19 positive children may experience. Some of these neurological conditions may adversely affect the long-term neurodevelopmental outcome. Experts say that these children need a regular follow-up treatment that can be a challenge for a resource-strapped country like India.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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