COVID-19 Causes More Complications in Youth Than Seasonal Flu


Pediatric patients with COVID-19 showed higher rates of symptoms than those with influenza.

A recent study conducted by investigators from Columbia University’s Irving Medical Center has found that COVID-19 produces more symptoms and complications in children and adolescents than seasonal influenza, although death is uncommon.

Results from the study were published online in the journal Pediatrics and was part of the Observational Health Data Sciences and Informatics (OHDSI) program, a multi-stakeholder, interdisciplinary collaborative to bring out the value of health data through large-scale analytics.

"This study addressed critical questions that were weighing down on both the healthcare community and the general population -- how was COVID-19 impacting our youngest population," Talita Duarte-Salles, lead author on the study said. "While some last year claimed that COVID-19 was no different than the flu, the real-world evidence we generated through open science showed something quite different. It was a relief to see that fatality was rare, but clearly both complications and symptoms showed the COVID-19 was no flu in children and adolescents."

For the study, investigators analyzed real-world observational data, which included more than 242,000 children and adolescents diagnosed with COVID-19, and compared it to more than 2,000,000 diagnosed with influenza across five countries.

Findings from the study demonstrated that pediatric patients with COVID-19 had higher rates of symptoms, including labored breathing, loss of smell and gastrointestinal symptoms than those with influenza.

Additionally, youths that were hospitalized due to COVID-19 showed complications such as hypoxemia and pneumonia at higher rates than those hospitalized due to the flu.

"Generating reliable evidence that can inform clinical decision-making for children and adolescents was so important, and it doesn't happen without collaboration and the foundation of open-source tools and practices developed for years in this network," Duarte-Salles said. "It was truly inspiring the way our OHDSI community rallied together globally in the face of this unprecedented pandemic and collaborated together."

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