Long COVID, also known as post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), refers to the presence of symptoms that persist for at least three months after recovering from COVID-19. As the global pandemic continues, there is growing concern about the long-term effects of the virus on individuals. In the United States, data from the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) provide insight into the prevalence of long COVID among children and adults.
According to a data brief from the NCHS, long COVID is rare among children in the U.S. The study estimates that in 2022, approximately 1.3% of children had ever experienced long COVID, while 0.5% currently had the condition. These findings are based on analyses of data from the National Health Interview Survey, which involved 7,464 children.
Interestingly, data from the Nationwide Commercial Laboratory Seroprevalence Survey indicated that nearly 92% of children had antibodies indicating a previous COVID infection. Despite high exposure rates, long COVID remains uncommon among children, especially those under the age of 12. Girls were slightly more likely than boys to have experienced long COVID, both in terms of past and current cases. Additionally, older children, between the ages of 12 and 17, had a higher prevalence of long COVID compared to younger age groups.
Among adults, long COVID is more prevalent, affecting approximately 6.9% of individuals who have ever had COVID and 3.4% of individuals currently experiencing long COVID in 2022. These numbers were based on analyses of 27,651 adults from the National Health Interview Survey.
Women had a higher prevalence of both past and current long COVID compared to men. Adults between the ages of 35-49 had the highest rates of long COVID, followed by those aged 18-34, 50-64, and 65 and older.
There were also disparities observed based on race and ethnicity. Asian adults were less likely to have ever experienced long COVID compared to Black, white, and Hispanic adults. Similarly, they were less likely to currently have long COVID. Additionally, prevalence estimates for long COVID were generally lower for individuals with higher incomes and for those who lived in large central metropolitan areas.
The prevalence of long COVID differs between children and adults in the United States. While it remains rare among children, affecting about 1.3% of the pediatric population, it is more prevalent among adults, with approximately 6.9% having experienced long COVID. Gender, age, race, ethnicity, income, and location all play a role in the likelihood of developing long COVID.
These findings contribute to our understanding of the long-term effects of COVID-19 and highlight the need for continued research and monitoring to better identify and support individuals experiencing long COVID. By gaining a deeper understanding of the prevalence and risk factors associated with long COVID, healthcare professionals and policymakers can develop targeted interventions and support services for those affected.