According to a new study led by pediatrician-researcher at UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
The most common neurological symptoms were headaches and altered mental status, known as acute encephalopathy. Published in Pediatric Neurology, these preliminary results are the first insights from the pediatric arm of GCS-NeuroCOVID, an international multicenter consortium aiming to understand how COVID-19 affects the brain and nervous system.
“The SARS-CoV-2 virus can affect pediatric patients in different ways: it can cause acute illness, where symptomatic illness appears soon after infection, or children can develop an inflammatory disease called MIS-C des weeks after clearing the virus,” said lead author Ericka Fink, MD, a pediatric intensivist at UPMC Children’s Hospital Pittsburgh and an associate professor of critical care medicine and pediatrics at Pitt. “One of the consortium’s big questions was whether the neurological manifestations are similar or different in pediatric patients, depending on which of these two conditions they have.”
To answer this question, the researchers recruited 30 pediatric intensive care centers around the world. Of 1,493 hospitalized children, 1,278, or 86%, were diagnosed with acute SARS-CoV-2; 215 children, or 14%, were diagnosed with MIS-C, or Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, which usually appears several weeks after the virus is cleared and is characterized by fever, inflammation and organ dysfunction .
The most common neurological manifestations related to acute COVID-19 were headache, acute encephalopathy and seizures, while young people with MIS-C most often suffered from headache, acute encephalopathy and seizures. dizziness. Rarer symptoms of both conditions included loss of smell, blurred vision, stroke and psychosis.
“Fortunately, mortality rates in children are low for acute SARS-CoV-2 and MIS-C,” Fink said. “But this study shows that the frequency of neurological manifestations is high – and it may in fact be higher than what we found because these symptoms are not always documented in the medical record or evaluable. For example, we cannot know if a baby has a headache.
The analysis showed that neurological manifestations were more common in children with MIS-C than in those with acute SARS-CoV-2, and children with MIS-C were more likely than those with disease. acute to have two or more neurological manifestations.
According to Fink, the team recently initiated a follow-up study to determine whether acute SARS-CoV-2 and MIS-C – with or without neurological manifestations – have lasting effects on children’s health and quality of life after their discharge from the hospital.
“Another long-term goal of this study is to create a database that tracks neurological manifestations over time, not only for SARS-CoV-2, but also for other types of infections,” said she added. “Some countries have excellent databases that allow them to easily track and compare hospitalized children, but we don’t have such a resource in the United States”
Other researchers who contributed to the study include Courtney L. Robertson, MD, Johns Hopkins Children’s Center; Mark S. Wainwright, MD, Ph.D., University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital; Juan D. Roa, MD, Universidad Nacional de Colombia and Fundación Universitaria de Ciencias de la Salud; Michelle E. Schober, MD, University of Utah, and other GCS-NeuroCOVID Pediatrics investigators who are listed in the article
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CAPTION: Ericka Fink, MD, pediatric intensivist, UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, and associate professor of critical care medicine and pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
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