Our goal is to understand the long-term effects of COVID-19 in children and adolescents.

What is the Pediatric Long Haulers Study (PLHS)?

The Pediatric Long Hauler’s Study, or the PLHS, is a research study aimed at learning more about the long-term effects of COVID-19 in children and adolescents. This study will follow up with hospitalized and non-hospitalized children who have tested positive for COVID-19. The study team will reach out by phone to ask questions regarding your child’s past and current COVID-19 symptoms, hospitalization, school attendance, and extracurricular activities they may be involved in.

Why is this important?

Overall, most children with COVID-19 only have mild symptoms, such as fever, chills, cough, body aches, headaches, sore throat, and loss of taste and smell. Most children recover within two weeks but some have reported longer-lasting symptoms, also known as “long hauling symptoms.”

We do not have much data on the long-term effects from COVID-19. To date, there has only been one study conducted in Italy about the physical symptoms in the pediatric population. Some long-term symptoms reported from this study included body aches, headaches, insomnia, and breathing issues. In addition to physical symptoms, there are many other social consequences related to COVID-19, including school closings, lack of resources to support online schooling, and parents’ unemployment. Understanding the long-terms symptoms of COVID-19 in children can help us identify how they affect the child and their family’s quality of life and the future risks of COVID-19 in children.

Who is eligible?

Patients from the Children’s Health System of Texas who were diagnosed with COVID-19 and are 18 years old or younger.


What does the process look like if my child participates?

You will be asked to complete a survey over the phone about your child’s health in regards to COVID-19. The survey usually takes around 15 to 20 minutes to complete, and you can skip any question you do not feel comfortable answering. If you allow us, we may also follow-up with you and your child at a later time to learn more about any possible health, behavioral, or lifestyle changes.

Participation in this research study is voluntary. Your decision will not affect the care your child receives at Children’s Health.

How long will my child be enrolled in the study?

Your child will be enrolled in this study until they exceed the age limit of 21 years. When your child reaches the age of 18 years, they will be required to re-consent to participate in the study.

What are the risks and benefits of participating?

There are no known risks in participating in this study, other than the possible breach of confidentiality. However, we will take steps to ensure your child’s privacy and confidentiality. There are no benefits to your child for participating in this study, but the information collected in this study can benefit other children in the future.

Can I stop participating in this study?

You may choose to stop your child from taking part in the study at any time. To withdraw from the study, please contact the study team at 972-546-2953.

Meet our team

Sarah Messiah
Sarah E. Messiah, PhD, MPH
Dr. Messiah is the director of the Center for Pediatric Population Health and a tenured Professor of Epidemiology, Human Genetics & Environmental Sciences at UTHealth School of Public Health. She is a perinatal/pediatric and life course epidemiologist whose research focuses on childhood obesity and cardiometabolic disease risk factors and the implementation of evidence-based practices into clinical and community-based settings to improve health outcomes. In her spare time, Dr. Messiah enjoys spending time with her family, her dogs, and working out.
Madeline Borel
Madeline M. Borel, MPH
Maddie is a second-year MPH student in Health Promotion and Health Education, with research interests in pediatric health and COVID-19 data. She is also pursuing a career as a Physician Assistant. In her free time, Maddie enjoys running, yoga, and visiting her family in Austin, TX.
Jackson Francis
Jackson M. Francis, BS

Jackson is a second-year student at the UTHealth School of Public Health working towards receiving an MPH in Epidemiology. His research interests include infectious disease, pandemic preparedness, and the affects of climate change on public health. In his free time, Jackson enjoys playing games, kayaking, and walking his dog Kira.

Johannah Gum

Weiheng (Holly) He, BA Holly is a second-year MPH candidate in Epidemiology at the UTHealth School of Public Health. Her research interests include infectious diseases, minority health, and health equity. In her free time, she enjoys playing the guitar and spending time with her friends.
Alejandra Lozano
Alejandra Lozano, BS-A
Alejandra is a research associate with Children’s Medical Center. Her current research interest are in minority health and community based participatory research. She is currently applying to nursing school and in her free time enjoys riding her bike around the DFW trails.
Elisa Morales Marroquin
Elisa Morales Marroquín, PhD, MS
Dr. Marroquín is a second year postdoctoral researcher at the University of Texas. Her research interest revolves around the relationship between the gut microbiota and obesity development. She is bilingual and enjoys working out and going out for walks.
Sunil Mathew
Sunil Mathew, MS
Sunil is a senior database administrator at the Center for Pediatric Population Health. He assists with the design, development, and collection of research data. Sunil enjoys barbecuing with his family and going on road trips.
Angela Rabl
Angela Rabl, MS, CHES

Angela is a second-year DrPH student in Health Promotion and Behavioral Sciences with research interests in minority health and cardiometabolic disease risk factors. Other interests include teen sexuality and global health. Angela enjoys working out and has competed in several fitness contests.

Clarissa Ronquillo
Clarissa M. Ronquillo, BA

Clarissa is a second-year Masters of Public Health student in Health Promotion and Health Education at UTHealth, and has an interest in law. In her free time, Clarissa enjoys sports, exploring, and music.

Valeria Sanchez
Valeria Sanchez, BS

Valeria is a second year MPH student in Epidemiology with research interests in maternal and child health. She currently has a Bachelor of Science in Cellular Molecular Biochemistry. In her free time, she enjoys outdoor activities and trying out new restaurants.

Sumbul Shaikh
Sumbul Shaikh, BS

Sumbul is a clinical research coordinator at Children's Medical Center. She has extensive clinical and translational research experience in microbiology and infectious disease, specifically musculoskeletal infection. In her free time, she enjoys doing nature trips with her daughter.

Nimisha Srikanth
Nimisha Srikanth

Nimisha is a junior public health major at Texas A&M University. At Texas A&M, she is a Craig and Galen Brown Scholar and University Scholar. Her research interests include maternal and child health, reproductive health and justice, and adolescent health. In her free time, Nimisha enjoys trying new restaurants and listening to different genres of music.

Apurva Veeraswamy
Apurva Veeraswamy

Apurva is a rising sophomore in college, majoring in Biology and Human Rights. Her research interests include population health research and cell/molecular biology research. In her free time Apurva enjoys spending time with her family and friends and cooking.

Amber Xie
Luyu (Amber) Xie, PharmD
Luyu (Amber) Xie is a PhD candidate in epidemiology and graduate research assistant at the Center of Pediatric Population Health. Her research interests include childhood asthma, pharmacoepidemiology, and mendelian randomization.


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Am I required to participate if I receive a call?

Participation in this research study is voluntary. You may decline to participate or withdraw from participating at any time.

Do I need to set up a time to participate in the study?

No, one of our study team members will reach out to you by phone.

What if I miss a call?

If you miss a call, we will leave a voicemail with our name and a callback number. You can also find our study team’s contact information here.

Can I schedule a call back?

Yes, you can let the team member know, and we will call you back at the scheduled time.

Will my child’s information be shared with anyone?

Your child’s information will not be shared with any organization or academic institution. We will be taking all steps necessary to ensure your child’s privacy and confidentiality.

Will I be contacted again if I already completed the interview?

We may follow-up with you and your child at a later time to learn more about any possible health, behavioral, or lifestyle changes. This will be occurring in the Fall.

What is a long-term symptom?

Long-term symptoms are any symptoms or changes to your child’s health that last longer than the usual two weeks.

Should my child get the vaccine?

The best person to help answer this question would be your child’s pediatrician. They would be able to go over your child’s specific medical conditions, address any concerns you may have, and provide other guidance.

For more information about vaccines related to COVID-19, please visit the CDC website on COVID-19 Vaccines for Children and Teens  or the Children’s website on COVID-19 Vaccines.

What is Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C)?

MIS-C is a rare but serious condition associated with COVID-19 in which different body parts become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs.

Children with this condition may experience a fever AND any of the following signs and symptoms:

  • Abdominal (gut) pain
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Chest tightness/pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Feeling extra tired
  • Headache
  • Low blood pressure
  • Neck pain
  • Rash
  • Vomiting

For more information on MIS-C, please visit the CDC website on MIS-C and COVID-19.

Is it safe for my child to return back to school in person?

The best person to help answer this question would be your child’s pediatrician.

To help with your decision-making, a team of physicians at Children’s Health and UT Southwestern have evaluated the risks related to different diagnoses and medications. Please visit the Children’s website on Back-to-school Guidance.

Contact us

If you have questions at any time about this research study, please feel free to contact our study team.

The Committee for Protection of Human Subjects at the University of Texas Health Science Center has reviewed this research study. You may contact them for any questions about your rights as a research subject, and to discuss any concerns, comments, or complaints about taking part in a research study at 713-500-7943.