VCU researchers join national project to track impact of long COVID-19 on children

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 6:21 PM EDT|Updated: Sep. 16, 2021 at 7:20 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Researchers from Virginia Commonwealth University are joining a national team of scientists to dive deeper into the impacts of long COVID-19 in children, teens, young adults and their parents for their new Life-Course Examination of General Affect and Neurocognitive Changes Following COVID-19 Infection (LEGACI) project.

This project is part of the National Institutes of Health’s research project dedicated to studying the long-term impacts of the virus.

“We will be focusing on children age 0 to 25 and their parents,” said Patricia Kinser, the assistant dean for research at VCU School of Nursing.

Kinser and Amy Salisbury, a professor and associate dean of research at VCU School of Nursing, will recruit families who’ve had COVID-19 and those who have not to see how the virus impacts their cognitive development and mental health.

“Children not being in school, not being with friends for a period of time, infants being exposed to people wearing masks and not seeing facial expressions as much,” said Salisbury.” Things like brain fog, or kind of feeling like there’s a lack of clear thinking, fatigue that is pretty pervasive and long-lasting, as well as some sleep deficits, problems sleeping.”

Salisbury said they will also study the physical health impacts.

“Particularly with the lungs, cardiovascular issues and inflammation of the immune system,” said Salisbury.

Salisbury said this study also offers researchers an opportunity to look at how genetics play a role in the transmission and effects of COVID-19.

“You can have a house of people, where half of them will have COVID-19 positive or some will have symptoms, and some won’t,” she said. “We really don’t understand why some people are more susceptible to this.”

The VCU team will conduct the testing in the field by going out into the community with their mobile laboratory.

“We can engage them in the pretty extensive testing that we will ask many of these children and families to do ranging from assessing lung function, assessing heart function, looking at neurocognitive development,” said Kinser.

The study will take four years to complete, but these researchers hope this project will lead to answers on how to better help patients dealing with long COVID-19.

“We see this as a jumping-off point for other research that can also be developed to look more closely at how exactly we can help these families and these children be successful in their future,” said Kinser.

For more information on this study or if you’re interested in participating, click here.

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