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Acute symptoms in SARS-CoV-2 positive adolescents aged 15-18 years - Results from a Danish national cross-sectional survey study

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Background: The purpose of this study was to investigate prevalence of self-reported symptom burden during the acute phase of SARS-CoV-2 infection and associated factors including sex differences.

Methods: All Danish adolescents aged 15-18 years with laboratory confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection between January 2020 and July 2021 were invited to participate. A survey covered the initial four weeks of SARS-CoV-2 infection and included questions regarding 17 symptoms associated with acute COVID-19, symptom burden and medical history. Statistical analyses included descriptive statistics and logistic regression.

Findings: A total of 24,315 adolescents with SARS-CoV-2 infection were invited and 6630 (27.3%) completed the questionnaire. The median age was 17.6 years, and 58.4% (n = 3873) were female. No symptoms were reported by 33.8% (n = 2241), mild perceived symptom burden by 57.2%(n = 3775), and severe symptom burden by 9.0 % (n = 594). Two thirds (n = 2999) of the symptomatic participants reported a symptom duration of 1-10 days. The most prevalent symptoms included headaches 39.2% (n = 2597), a reduced sense of smell 36.2% (n = 2398), cough 31.6% (n = 2093), sore throat 31.1% (n = 2063), and a reduced sense of taste 31.1% (n = 2062). Adolescents at the age of 18 years had higher odds of reporting ≥6 symptoms OR1.47 (95%CI, 1.23-1.76), p < 0.0001 and adolescents 18+ years old had higher odds of reporting a severe symptom burden OR1.98 (95%CI, 1.43-2.73) compared to the 15years old adolescents. A history of OCD/anxiety/depression was associated with reporting ≥6 symptoms OR 1.67 (95%CI, 1.34-2.09), p < 0.0001 and a history of allergy and OCD/anxiety/depression reporting severe symptom burden OR 1.64 (95%CI, 1.35-1.99), p < 0.0001 and OR 1.75 (95%CI, 1.28-2.36), p = 0.0004. Females reported more symptoms than males; median of three (IQR 0-6) vs. a median of two (IQR 0-4) symptoms, p < 0.0001.

Interpretation: Two in three experienced symptoms and the majority reported mild symptom burden. Headache, a reduced sense of smell and taste, cough and sore throat were most common. Female sex, asthma and previous Epstein-Barr virus were associated with more symptoms and higher symptom burden.

Funding: The study was funded by the AP Møller Foundation. The research was investigator initiated. The study funder played no role in the study.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100354
JournalThe Lancet regional health. Europe
Pages (from-to)100354
Publication statusPublished - May 2022

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