Mar. 4, 2021 -- The National Institutes of Health has launched a new research initiative to better understand how COVID-19 affects children, particularly those with long-term effects of coronavirus infection.
The CARING for Children with COVID program will study why some children face greater risks for contracting COVID-19, why symptoms vary among children, and how to identify children who have higher risks for the life-threatening multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C.
“While much of the devastation wrought by COVID-19 is on older and vulnerable populations, it is affecting children in ways we are just beginning to understand,” Gary Gibbons, MD, co-director of the initiative and director of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, said in a statement.
Most children who contract COVID-19 don’t have serious symptoms, the NIH said, but some develop severe inflammation, severe abdominal pain, and a prolonged fever that can lead to shock. Some children with mild or no symptoms also may develop long-term effects such as fatigue, muscle pain, joint pain and respiratory problems.
The research program includes clinical networks across the country, which will look at the various complications associated with MIS-C, as well as potential treatments that may work in children.
“That’s why this research and these networks are so critical,” Gibbons said.
The studies will also look for new approaches to identify children who face high risks for severe COVID-19. The idea is to use new, non-traditional approaches to address gaps in COVID-19 testing and surveillance, the NIH wrote.
The clinical networks will share data among research projects and post data on multiple NIH platforms so researchers can conduct additional analyses. Information about the collaboration and specific research projects is available on the Caring4KidsWithCOVID website.