Risks for Neurologic, Psychiatric Sequelae Persist After COVID-19

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Adults have increased risks for cognitive deficit, dementia, psychotic disorders, epilepsy or seizures at two-year follow-up

HealthDay News — Risk for certain neuropsychiatric sequelae remains increased up to two years after COVID-19 infection, according to a study published online Aug. 17 in The Lancet Psychiatry.

Maxime Taquet, Ph.D., from the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the long-term risks for neurologic and psychiatric sequelae associated with COVID-19. A cohort of patients of any age with COVID-19 diagnosed from Jan. 20, 2020, to April 13, 2022, was identified and propensity score-matched with a contemporaneous cohort of patients with other respiratory infection (1,487,712 patients with COVID-19 and an equal number of controls).

The researchers found that most outcomes had hazard ratios significantly greater than 1 after six months, but the risk horizons and time to equal incidence varied considerably. After one to two months, the risks for the common psychiatric disorders returned to baseline (mood disorders at 43 days; anxiety disorders at 58 days) and reached an equal overall incidence to the matched comparison group subsequently (mood and anxiety disorders at 457 and 417 days, respectively). In contrast, at the end of the two-year follow-up period, risks for cognitive deficit (brain fog), dementia, psychotic disorders, and epilepsy or seizures were still increased. Compared with adults, children had different post-COVID-19 risk trajectories, with no increased risk for mood or anxiety disorders, but increased risks for cognitive deficit; insomnia; intracranial hemorrhage; ischemic stroke; nerve, nerve root, and plexus disorders; psychotic disorders; and epilepsy or seizures.

“The results have important implications for patients and health services as it suggests new cases of neurological conditions linked to COVID-19 infection are likely to occur for a considerable time after the pandemic has subsided,” a coauthor said in a statement.

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