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Systematic review of reviews of symptoms and signs of COVID-19 in children and adolescents

By Russell M Viner, Joseph Ward, Lee Hudson, Melissa Ashe, Sanjay Patel, Dougal Hargreaves, Elizabeth Whittaker

Posted 18 Oct 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.10.16.20213298

ObjectiveTo undertake a systematic review of reviews of the prevalence of symptoms and signs of COVID-19 in those aged under 20 years? DesignNarrative systematic review of reviews. PubMed, medRxiv, Europe PMC and COVID-19 Living Evidence Database were searched on 9 October 2020. SettingAll settings, including hospitalised and community settings. PatientsCYP under age 20 years with laboratory-proven COVID-19. Study review, data extraction and qualityPotentially eligible articles were reviewed on title and abstract by one reviewer. Quality was assessed using the modified AMSTARS criteria and data were extracted from included studies by two reviewers. Main outcome measuresPrevalence of symptoms and signs of COVID-19 Results1325 studies were identified and 18 reviews were included. Eight were high quality, 7 medium and 3 low quality. All reviews were dominated by studies of hospitalised children. The proportion who were asymptomatic ranged from 14.6 to 42%. Fever and cough were the commonest symptoms; proportions with fever ranged from 46 to 64.2% and with cough from 32 to 55.9%. All other symptoms or signs including rhinorrhoea, sore throat, headache, fatigue/myalgia and gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhoea and vomiting are infrequent, occurring in less than 10-20%. ConclusionsFever and cough are the most common symptoms in CYP with COVID-19, with other symptoms infrequent. Further research on symptoms in community samples are needed to inform pragmatic identification and testing programmes for CYP.

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