New Yale Children’s Hospital New Haven is the latest provider that focuses specifically on the treatment of long-term health complications from COVID-19.
The hospital has opened a new comprehensive care program at its Center for Pediatric Specialties to provide a patient-centered approach for children experiencing persistent symptoms of COVID-19.
The program is designed to create a network of clinical specialists in one place to give children easier access to treatment, according to Rebecca Ciaburri, associate director of quality, safety and program development for Yale New Haven Children’s.
The program will include five pediatric specialties: cardiology, pneumology, rheumatology, infectious diseases and neurology. Children could see that of those specialists on a visit to provide a more coordinated, team-based approach to more common, persistent symptoms of COVID-19. Patients also have access to behavioral health supports which will be integrated into the program.
“This program was developed in direct response to the needs we see in our patients and also to hear from their parents and pediatricians in our community,” Ciaburri said.
Most long-term COVID symptoms are mild and subside after a couple of weeks. But some children have experienced health problems such as shortness of breath, chest tightness, headaches and muscle aches and pains that lasted for months after testing positive for the disease. Some children with COVID-19 have developed a rare and dangerous disorder known as multi-system inflammatory syndrome, or MIS-C, which causes severe inflammation to vital organs.
It is not known exactly what percentage of children who contract COVID-19 experience “long-term COVID”. Informal figures reported in January by the UK government Office for National Statistics found almost 13% of children aged two to 11 years and 14.5% of young people aged 12 to 16 who tested positive for COVID-19 reported having at least one symptom five weeks after becoming infected.
A report released last month by the American Academy of Pediatrics and Hospital Association for Children found that as of May 20, nearly four million children in the United States had tested positive for COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic. About 40,000 new cases were reported the week before May 20, according to the report, marking the lowest number of weekly cases since last October.
While children have made up a relatively small share of COVID cases, recent evidence shows that there is an increasing proportion of new cases. Children accounted for about 14% of total cases since the pandemic began, but accounted for nearly 20% or the week ended May 20, according to the AAP-CHA report.
“While we pay very close attention to this, having a comprehensive approach to supporting these patients is a key strategy in us that we can better understand its impact,” Ciaburri said. “The kids are incredibly resilient, and we have every reason to believe they will continue to do well.”
Yale’s new program follows similar actions taken by several pediatric health care providers in recent months to treat children with long-term COVID and to learn more about its effects on health.
Last month, CS Mott Children’s Hospital of the University of Michigan announced the opening of the state’s first multidisciplinary pediatric clinic to treat patients under the age of 21 who have experienced symptoms related to COVID that lasted six weeks after infection.
RWJBarnabas Health’s New Jersey-based San Barnabas Medical Center offers pediatric care services as part of its comprehensive assessment, recovery and evaluation program that focuses on addressing children’s health needs. with a long COVID.
In March, u National Institutes of Health announced the launch of a new research effort to understand how the virus that causes COVID-19 affects children with a specific focus on learning the root causes as some end up developing more serious health conditions such as MIS -C.