Doctors warn children infected with COVID-19 may be at risk of heart failure and damage

A report by a group of U.S. doctors published in the medical journal JACC warns of the potential of heart damage to children from the novel coronavirus. 

The report detailed the case of a 2-month-old infant diagnosed with COVID-19, who experienced a myocardial injury as well as a type of heart failure most commonly seen in adults.

"Most children with Covid-19 are either asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, but our case shows the potential for reversible myocardial (heart) injury in infants,” said Dr. Madhu Sharma, the report’s lead author. 

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In a news release published on Wednesday, the group of doctors said the infant recovered with normal heart function and was eventually discharged with no heart failure medications. 

"The presentation and clinical course of this patient mirrors four case reports of acute myocardial injury reported in adult patients with COVID-19," said Sharma. 

Sharma urged more comprehensive COVID-19 testing in children. “Testing for COVID-19 in children presenting with signs and symptoms of heart failure is very important as we learn more about the impact of this virus,” he said. 

In August, increasing evidence emerged that the coronavirus has been causing children to experience long-term symptoms typically observed in adults. 

A mother holds her daughter while a Red Cross volunteer administers a Covid-19 rapid test at a screening clinic during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic on December 02, 2020 in Hildburghausen, Germany. (Photo by Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images)

Canadian news outlet CTV News reported on an Ottawa mother’s 7-year-old twins, Clara and Luc, and 9-year-old daughter, Mira, who appeared to have lingering COVID-19 symptoms which first appeared in March.

In the U.K., a 14-year-old girl fell ill with a cough in March when the pandemic first hit Britain. The girl, Indiana Evans, was never hospitalized because her symptoms were extremely mild, but doctors eventually diagnosed her with post-viral fatigue post-COVID, her mother told CNN.

The experiences of these children are examples of a growing population of people spanning age demographics who are reporting symptoms related to the coronavirus that seem to last for months, calling themselves “long haul survivors.” 

As schools reopened in the fall, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported in late September that children of all ages made up 10% of all U.S. COVID-19 cases.

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And the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that the incidence of COVID-19 in school-age children began rising in early September as many youngsters returned to their classrooms. About two times more teens were infected than younger children, the CDC report said.

Most infected children have mild cases, and hospitalizations and death rates are much lower than in adults.

The CDC report said more than 277,000 children ages 5 to 17 were confirmed infected between March and Sept. 19, with an increase in September after a peak and a decline over the summer.

The agency acknowledged that may be an underestimate, in part because testing is most often done on people with symptoms, and children with the coronavirus often have none.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.