Studies find nearly 300 children with inflammatory conditions linked to Covid-19

TTwo American research groups reported finding about 300 cases of an apparent alarming side effect of Covid-19 in children, a condition called multi-system inflammation syndrome, or MIS-C. While researchers have previously reported on the condition, the documents mark the first attempt to measure how often the side effect occurs and how it affects children who develop it.

The studies, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, describe children who develop severe inflammation a few weeks after receiving Covid-19. Inflammation often attacks multiple organ systems. In one of the studies, led by researchers at Boston Children’s Hospital, 80% of children who developed the condition required intensive care, 20% required mechanical ventilation, and four children, or 2%, died. In the second study, by researchers from New York State, two children died.

In both studies, many of the children developed cardiovascular and gastrointestinal problems.


“Ours was very sick children,” said Adrienne Randolph, an ICU physician at Boston Children’s Hospital and lead author of one of the newspapers. She said, however, that the condition is believed to be rare. Her team’s document reported 186 children with the condition who were reported by doctors in 26 states.

An editorial written by Michael Levin of the infectious diseases department at Imperial College London said that to date approximately 1,000 pediatric cases of the condition have been reported worldwide. He suggested that more are likely to be lost, because case definitions require evidence of previous Covid-19 infection, which may have been overlooked in some mild cases. Children are much more likely than adults to be symptom-free or have mild symptoms when they get Covid-19.


“There is concern that children who meet the current diagnostic criteria for MIS-C are the ‘tip of the iceberg’, and a bigger problem may be lurking below the waterline,” Levin wrote.

He suggested that MIS-C occurs in two out of every 100,000 people under the age of 21 who contract the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes Covid-19. The infection rate in people under 21 years of age was 322 in 100,000 during the period studied.

Randolph said the average age of the affected children was about 8 years old. Research is ongoing to try to determine what the long-term consequences are for children who develop MIS-C, he said.

This is breaking news and will be updated.