Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations among children they are at an all-time high, raising concerns about a rare but serious syndrome that appears in children several weeks after COVID-19 infections.
MIS-C, or Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, is a condition associated with COVID-19 in which different parts of the body become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. , according to the Centers. for Disease Control and Prevention. The cause of the syndrome is unknown.
The syndrome usually appears two to six weeks after COVID-19 infection, and its symptoms include fever, stomach pain, bloodshot eyes, diarrhea, dizziness, rash, and vomiting.
Cartoon about coronavirus
While MIS-C is rare (the CDC has documented more than 6,400 MIS-C cases and 55 deaths as of January 3), the current increase in coronavirus cases among children likely means more cases of MIS will appear soon- C.
“If you have more children [COVID-19] then you’ll end up seeing more MIS-C, ”says Sophie Katz of Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “I think that’s what’s going to happen.”
The CDC reports that the average age of MIS-C patients was 9 years old, and half of the children with the syndrome were between 5 and 13 years old. Most of the reported patients were men.
MIS-C has been reported in all states. Georgia and California report the most cases, more than 400.
Of particular concern with MIS-C is inflammation of the heart.
“Whenever that happens, we usually see children who are very seriously ill, a little bit in shock, and their hearts … not pumping as well as it normally should,” says Katz, who is an assistant professor of infectious diseases. pediatric.
The average hospital stay with MIS-C is five days. Katz says that about 98% of MIS-C patients return to normal after their month-long checkup.
Most patients do well with treatment, which can include intravenous immune globulin and steroids, according to Katz.
But since more children contract coronavirus as the highly transmissible omicron variant spreads, it is likely that more children will also contract MIS-C.
“All the pediatricians I know are eager for us to see big increases in both [COVID-19] and MIS-C cases after [the holidays], ”Wendy Hasson, a pediatric intensive care unit physician in Portland, Oregon, who is also a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, He said US News last month.
So when will experts know if omicron leads to an increase in MIS-C? Katz says an increase would be delayed for three to four weeks after a coronavirus surge.
“I’m preparing for more MIS-Cs with this omicron wave in about a month or so,” says Katz.
Coronavirus cases among children are at “the highest case count ever reported since the start of the pandemic,” according to a report from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children’s Hospital Association.
More than 325,000 pediatric infections were reported in the week leading up to Dec. 30, according to the report. That’s almost a 65% increase from the previous week.
“Nearly 7.9 million children have tested positive for COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, representing more than 1 in 10 children in the US,” the report said.
Despite already reaching record levels, more infections are expected among children, experts warn.
Anthony Fauci, a leading infectious disease expert, said this week that while the highly contagious omicron variant appears to cause a milder disease Than delta, “the high volume of infections due to its deep transmissibility means that many more children will be infected.”
“As many more children will become infected, a certain proportion of them, usually children who have underlying comorbidities, will end up in the hospital,” Fauci said during a news conference. “That is just an inevitability.”
One thing to keep in mind, Katz says, is that more cases of MIS-C appear in children who did not know they had COVID-19 before. Many cases of MIS-C occur in children who had mild COVID-19 symptoms or who were asymptomatic, and that trend is expected to continue with the omicron variant.
While the CDC has encouraged For parents to vaccinate their children against the coronavirus to protect against MIS-C, vaccination rates among children remain well below what experts would like to see.
Only 16% of children ages 5 to 11 are fully vaccinated, and just over half of children ages 12 to 17 are fully vaccinated, according to CDC data. A vaccine for children under 5 years of age has not yet been licensed.
Vaccine use among children ages 5 to 11 and those ages 12 to 17 has significantly slower, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey released last month.
A new study published by the CDC on Friday found that Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine was highly effective in preventing MIS-C in children ages 12 to 18.
Among the 102 cases of MIS-C that the study examined, 95% of the patients were not vaccinated. All the patients who needed life support were not vaccinated, according to the study.
“This analysis provides supporting evidence that vaccination of children and adolescents is highly protective against MIS-C and COVID-19 and underscores the importance of vaccinating all eligible children,” the researchers wrote.