Study highlights neurological impact of Covid-19 on children

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Study highlights neurological impact of Covid-19 on children

Press releases may be edited for formatting or style | December 17, 2020 Alzheimers/Neurology MRI Pediatrics
A small number of previously healthy children infected with Covid-19 can have severe neurological complications, according to research by University of Manchester scientists.

38 children from 8 countries, in a study published in Lancet Child and Adolescent Health, were found to be suffering from brain and/or spinal cord abnormalities.

The children, who all had MRI scans, presented with symptoms including fever, reduced consciousness, problems moving their arms and legs and cognitive dysfunction.

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Most of the children (32) had either recovered (26) or were on their way to recovery (6).

Eight did not display the respiratory symptoms commonly seen in patients with the virus.

Four died from coinfections such as TB and MRSA after Covid-19 had made them more susceptible.

And 2 of the children had paralysis after the virus had affected their spinal cord.

Funded by the American Society of Pediatric Neuroradiology, it is the largest study of children who’s central nervous system has been either directly or indirectly affected by Covid-19.

Though the study is not able to identify the incidence of neurological problems in children with the virus, the team expect the number to be low.

Professor Stavros Stivaros, paediatric neuroradiologist and Director of Imaging at The university of Manchester was joint senior author on the study.

He said: “It’s clear from the number of children we have seen with Covid-19, that neurological complications are rare. But it is importance to recognise that Covid-19 could be a possible diagnosis, even if these children are not displaying the virus’s classic respiratory symptoms.

“So we hope our study will alert hospital doctors and A & E staff looking after children to the fact Covid-19 should be considered as one of the factors that can cause that brain and spinal cord dysfunction.

“We have long known that different viruses can impact on the brain and spine, but until this study, we couldn’t really say for sure that Covid-19, though rare, could also have this effect.”

Of the 38 children with Covid-19 scanned, a group of 12 children presented with respiratory problems caused by the virus with four of these children sadly dying as a result of co-infections. One remained on a ventilator as a result of spinal injury six months after their presentation .


We hope our study will alert hospital doctors and A & E staff looking after children to the fact Covid-19 should be considered as one of the factors that can cause that brain and spinal cord dysfunction

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