In the earliest days of the COVID-19 pandemic, parents and physicians were heartened to hear that the disease was sparing children. Most kids had mild, moderate or asymptomatic cases. Although this is still true, news media have recently reported that some children are developing a condition the CDC is calling multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) as a complication of COVID-19 infection that can damage the heart and other organs.
"We want to reassure families that this complication is very rare," said Roshni Mathew, MD, clinical assistant professor of infectious disease at Stanford Children's Health. Her team is closely monitoring reports about the disease as scientists around the world work to understand the new condition. "Even though this is rare, and we don't want parents to become alarmed, it's wise for them to know what to watch for," Mathew said.
Physicians in New York, London and elsewhere have described the symptoms of the new syndrome: persistent fever, a rash or changes in skin color, red eyes or conjunctivitis, abdominal pain, and swollen lymph nodes. If parents notice any of these symptoms, they should call their pediatrician for advice on next steps.
The blog also addresses the differences between this new entity linked to COVID-19 and Kawasaki disease, another pediatric inflammatory condition, of which there has been one reported case at Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford.
"What we saw at Packard Children's Hospital was classic Kawasaki disease," Mathew said. "It appears that what they're seeing in New York has Kawasaki-like features but is more severe. Drawing these distinctions is tricky in a pandemic because we are learning as we go." Complete clinical descriptions of the children in New York have yet to be published, making it difficult for experts to know exactly how the cases compare, Mathew added.
For more information about COVID-19 and children, visit the following resources from Stanford Children's Health:
Stanford Children's Health, with Lucile Packard Children's Hospital Stanford at its center, is the Bay Area's largest health care system exclusively dedicated to children and expectant mothers. Our network of care includes more than 65 locations across Northern California and more than 85 locations in the U.S. Western region. As part of Stanford Medicine, a leading academic health system that also includes Stanford Health Care and Stanford University School of Medicine, we are cultivating the next generation of medical professionals and are at the forefront of scientific research to improve children's health outcomes around the world. We are a nonprofit organization committed to supporting the community through meaningful outreach programs and services and providing necessary medical care to families, regardless of their ability to pay. Discover more at stanfordchildrens.org.