Arkansas will lead a 14-state study of the long-term effects of COVID-19 on children, with the hopes of finding effective treatments to alleviate symptoms.
The Arkansas Children's Research Institute is working with more than a dozen other states, as part of a National Institutes of Health program looking at long-haul COVID-19 symptoms in tens of thousands of children and adults across the country, called the RECOVER Initiative.
ACRI received an estimated $25 million from NIH to fund the research. The project will help scientists better understand the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on children across the nation, ACRI said in a news release.
Dr. Jessica Snowden, associate director for clinical research at the Arkansas Children's Research Institute, says it aims to answer puzzling questions about lingering COVID symptoms in kids.
"We don't know a whole lot about what causes those long-term symptoms or how we can treat them," Snowden explained. "This is the beginning of a lot of work to substantially improve the lives of kids and families who've been impacted by long-term COVID, by identifying new treatments and new prevention strategies."
Some lasting health problems children reported after a COVID diagnosis included headaches and trouble engaging in school. A recent study found among adults, 36% who have been infected with COVID-19 have symptoms that linger for months.
Hawaii, New Hampshire, Puerto Rico and Vermont are on the list to participate in the pediatric study.
Snowden noted it is exciting to work with more rural parts of the country because often, those communities are not included in national research.
"We don't know that treatment options are the same in New York as they are in Arkansas," Snowden observed. "We felt it was really, really important that these kids get represented in this research as well, so that the answers we come up with apply to kids in areas like ours."
Snowden added Arkansas Children's Research Institute hopes to have the study up and running before the end of the year. The funding was supported by the American Rescue Plan.