Post-COVID-19 Syndrome in Kids May Cause Lifelong Heart Damage

The majority of these children are asymptomatic.
Fabienne Lang

Seemingly fit and healthy children are coming down with severe multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), which is believed to be linked to COVID-19. 

A recent study by researchers at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio has shed light on the fact that some children may suffer severe heart damage after contracting COVID-19. 

The study was published in EClinicalMedicine, a journal in The Lancet, on Friday.


Lifelong monitoring

The kids who contracted MIS-C mostly did not show any typical signs of COVID-19. It appears that the kids had COVID-19 three to four weeks prior to catching MIS-C.

"Children might have no symptoms, no one knew they had the disease, and a few weeks later, they may develop this exaggerated inflammation in the body," explained Dr. Alvaro Moreira from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, and an assistant professor of pediatrics in the university’s Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine.

"According to the literature, children did not need to exhibit the classic upper respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 to develop MIS-C, which is frightening," he continued.

The team studied 662 cases of MIS-C from around the world and discovered alarming statistics. For instance, 100% of the children had fever, 71% of them were placed in the ICUs, 22.2% needed mechanical ventilation, and 11 of the children died. 

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It's the first time the new childhood MIS-C is thought to be associated with COVID-19, and unfortunately "it has so many different faces that initially it was challenging for clinicians to understand," per Dr. Moreira

The extent of the MIS-C inflammation exceeds that of two similar pediatric diseases: Kawasaki disease, and toxic heart syndrome. And on a more positive note, "The saving grace is that treating these patients with therapies commonly used for Kawasaki – immunoglobulin and glucocorticosteroids – has been effective," explained Dr. Moreira

Unfortunately, some of the children will potentially have to be monitored for the rest of their lives. Almost half of the patients already had an underlying medical condition, while the other half of them were obese or overweight. 

Close monitoring of these children will shed more light for their future outcomes, and the study explained that their full outcomes are still yet to be determined.

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