Hasbro Children’s participates in national study on long-term effects on COVID-19 in children

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Hasbro Children’s will receive approximately $ 40 million from the NIH to lead the study in Rhode Island and the surrounding area.

Dr. Sean Deoni, Professor of Diagnostic Imaging and Pediatrics at Brown University’s Warren Alpert Medical School, is co-directing the Rhode Island research that will lead the LEGACI (Life-Course Examination of Genomics and Neurocognitive Changes Following COVID-19 Infection) study special focus on people under 25 years of age.

“While children seem resilient to COVID-19 and are much less likely to experience serious illness or death, we don’t know how COVID-19 affects their long-term health and development and we need to respond quickly,” Deoni said.

Deoni said the study aims to recruit approximately 1,200 people in three locations, with “approximately 400 to 500” pediatric patients at Hasbro Children’s. He said the number includes healthy children who do not have COVID-19, children who are currently experiencing acute symptoms, children who have had COVID-19 within the past 18 months but have had no persistent symptoms, and pediatric patients who have COVID -19 within had the last 18 months with persistent symptoms.

“We’re really looking at the full spectrum to really understand the implications of these different aspects,” he said. “With the delta [variant]”Obviously there are a lot of particularly hurtful children when they go back to school.”

The goal is to complete patient enrollment within the next eight to twelve months, and the study will last up to four years, depending on when these people enter and how severe their symptoms are. Families interested in enrolling can expect a “tiered assessment plan” where the first tier is completely out of the way and general demographic issues are addressed.

It will use mobile health technologies like smartphone apps and wearable devices to collect data; and characterize the incidence and prevalence of long-term sequelae that span the spectrum of symptoms, underlying causes, risk factors, and outcomes.

The second stage of the study for families will be more involved and will include antibody and antigen tests. Children will play cognitive games, and then the doctors will check the children’s heart rate, blood pressure, and neuroimaging. Biological samples such as saliva, hair and blood are also taken. Patients in the study may also have optional activities such as measuring their physical responses to running on a treadmill.

Deoni told the Globe that this study was ideal for Rhode Island as it had “one of the highest” rates of COVID-19 in pediatric patients per capita in the country. He said that about 600 pediatric patients have been diagnosed with active COVID-19 infection since last year.

And since the researchers will be using a mobile clinic, “Rhode Island is a small state. It’s easy to find our way around when we take a tour of almost every part of the country. “

“The other aspect of Rhode Island that is attractive from a study standpoint is that we have pretty large demographics – we have a range of races, racial backgrounds, etc. that we can look at over a fairly small radius geographically,” he said .

Preliminary research by Dr. Moriah Thomason, a community health and child and adolescent psychiatrist at NYU Langone Health, suggest that up to 14 percent of children who have had COVID-19 continue to have persistent symptoms. The most common symptoms are pain, fatigue and “brain fog”, shortness of breath, headache, anxiety, depression, fever, chronic cough and trouble sleeping.

“We need to understand what children infected with COVID-19 are experiencing and we need to identify factors that predict better or worse outcomes. This will help us develop better ways to care and counsel families, ”said Thomason, who said these symptoms of long-term COVID can affect a child’s performance at school or in everyday activities and sports.

“We will build local networks of people who have been affected by long-term COVID and representatives from advocacy organizations to connect with affected families and communiques and quickly share information with them,” said Dr. Gabard-Durnam, Professor of Psychology and Director of the Plasticity in Neurodevelopment (PINE) Lab in the Northeast.

The study also examines possible treatment and prevention strategies.

“This is an important opportunity to answer important questions about the effects of COVID-19 infection and the long-running COVID illness in children, and we will need everyone’s help,” said Deoni. “Effects of COVID could have lifelong effects, so it is important to understand these effects and identify potential ways to minimize them.”


Alexa Gagosz can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @alexagagosz.

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