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Arkansas mom seeing impact of long-haul COVID in young daughter, hopeful in upcoming research

Arkansas Children's Hospital received about $25 million to coordinate with 14 other rural states and study long-haul COVID in kids.

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — We've talked a lot about long-haul COVID since the pandemic started, but most of the conversations have been centered around adults. 

Unfortunately, it's happening with kids too. 

That's why Arkansas Children's Hospital is hoping to bring some answers to the many questions that parents have. 

The research institute received about $25 million to coordinate with 14 other rural states and study long-haul COVID in children. 

For parents, like Lacey Vance, who has watched her daughter struggle with lingering symptoms for months, this research gives her hope.

"You get this moment of okay, maybe we're in the clear, this is gone. Everything's good and it truly has been, every time it has come out of nowhere within six hours of time, she's fine and then she's not fine," she said.

Four-year-old Scarlet Vance was diagnosed with COVID-19 at the end of July. 

It took her about a week to recover, but four months later, she's still dealing with the impacts of the disease. 

Her mom, Lacey, said she's trying to be brave for her daughter, even though she doesn't have many answers to help.

"On the inside, freaking out a little bit because you don't for sure know that this is long-haul COVID. Could it be something else? So, just balancing that level of just being a little bit scared," she said.

Since the beginning of August, Lacey has taken off work at least four times a month to take care of Scarlet. 

After weeks of headaches, high fevers, and several trips to the doctor with no prescribed remedies, Lacey realized her daughter could still be struggling with COVID-19.

"We're just assuming at this point, because we don't have another explanation," she said.

The Vance family isn't in this alone though, thousands of other families across the country are also dealing with this. 

This is why Arkansas Children's Hospital is looking for answers, according to Chief of Pediatric Infectious Diseases Dr. Jessica Snowden.

"That's the hope, is that this study is going to help identify ways that we can treat long-haul COVID and improve the symptoms for kids," she said.

Dr. Snowden said the study will dig into how COVID-19 impacts kids' hearts, livers, and hormones long-term while also trying to figure out why kids are struggling to sleep and focus, even months after they test positive.

"Right now, we don't have any treatment options for that. This study really helps us start to figure out ways that we can help all those things," she said.

While kids, like Scarlet, still don't feel like themselves all the time... Snowden said this research could hold the key to brighter days.

"The more we can understand about how this is impacting children, the better we can do to get them back on the course that we wanted them to be on in the first place," she said.

According to Snowden, the study actually hasn't started yet, but children should be able to start enrolling soon. 

Once sign-ups open, we will have that information here. 

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