New Covid-19 Complications In Children: What they are and what parents should watch for

Mother checking temperature of her ill kid

Just a few weeks ago, coronavirus or Covid-19 was thought to be a threat mostly to the elderly and those with chronic healthcare issues. We worried that children were unknowing carriers but unlikely to develop symptoms of Covid-19. Now, as the virus seems to evolve and change, you may have heard about its link to a rare and serious inflammatory condition that is affecting children, teens and young adults. 

At Alzein Pediatrics, we know this can be incredibly confusing and scary, so we are here to help explain, including what to watch for and when to call us. 

What exactly is this?
The CDC initially identified this by saying children had Kawasaki disease-like symptoms. Kawasaki disease is a primary cause of acquired heart disease and typically affects young children, usually boys. Symptoms of Kawasaki disease include:
• Rash
• Swollen lymph nodes
• Red, swollen or watery eyes
• Changes to the lining of the mouth
• Swelling or changes to the arms and legs

However, the CDC is now calling these complications Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), as there are important differences between MIS-C and Kawasaki disease. Experts are still searching for a cause, determining a definitive relation to Covid-19 and formulating a precise description or definition of MIS-C.

Do I need to be concerned if my child is healthy and has shown no signs of Covid-19?
It is important to note that MIS-C is often occurring in otherwise healthy children who have no outward signs of Covid-19 infection. It is not yet clear why some children develop MIS-C while others do not. There have been over 100 cases of MIS-C with 3 fatalities in New York and cases have been identified in at least 19 states, including Illinois.

Why is MIS-C different?
Kawasaki disease typically occurs in children younger than 5 years old, but children with MIS-C can be as old as their late teens. MIS-C causes a multitude of symptoms including:
• Low blood pressure and shock
• Fever of at least 100.4 for at least 24 hours
• Abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea
• Confusion
• Rash
• Critical illness requiring hospitalization
• Blood test results that show elevated inflammatory markers
• At least two organs in jeopardy – heart, lungs, kidneys, skin, or nervous system

Blood test results for children who are diagnosed with MIS-C typically show antibodies indicating a current or recent Covid-19 infection or exposure.

We want to reassure parents that most children are still not affected by the coronavirus, and reports of children who become seriously ill with MIS-C remain rare and unusual cases.

How is MIS-C treated?
MIS-C requires prompt hospitalization and care in the ICU for several days to two weeks, depending upon the severity of the case. Treatments include anti-inflammatory medications, drugs to help raise blood pressure and immunoglobulins, or antibodies. Echocardiograms are repeated to track inflammation and the possibility of an aneurysm. 

When should I call Alzein Pediatrics?
While MIS-C remains uncommon, it’s also not clearly understood. When your child has a fever over 100.4 for more than 24 hours, call our office at 708-424-7600. Prompt action, diagnosis and treatment can help prevent life-altering chronic health issues.

Still have questions?
We are here to help! You can request a telemedicine visit or an in-person visit. Please do not be apprehensive about coming in to our offices for check ups, vaccines or if your child is sick. Our offices are thoroughly sanitized between patients and you’ll wait in the security of your own car until your child’s exam room is ready. Please call 708-424-7600, click here for telemedicine or click here for your patient portal. 

Remember, when your child has a fever over 100.4 for more than 24 hours, call our office at 708-424-7600. All of us at Alzein Pediatrics are committed to the health and well-being of your child!

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