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Children's Hospitals Grapple with Young Covid 'Long Haulers'

A slumber party to celebrate Delaney DePue’s 15th birthday last summer marked a new chapter — one defined by illness and uncertainty.

The teen from Fort Walton Beach, Florida, tested positive for covid-19 about a week later, said her mother, Sara, leaving her bedridden with flu-like symptoms. However, her expected recovery never came.

Delaney — who used to train 20 hours a week for competitive dance and had no diagnosed underlying conditions — now struggles to get through two classes in a row, she said. If she overexerts herself, she becomes bedridden with extreme fatigue. And shortness of breath overcomes her in random places like the grocery store.

Doctors ultimately diagnosed Delaney with COPD — a chronic lung inflammation that affects a person’s ability to breathe — said Sara, 47. No one has been able to pinpoint the cause of her daughter’s decline.

“There’s just no research there,” she said. “Kids are not supposed to have this kind of condition.”

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