Half of children who develop COVID-19-related inflammatory syndrome have hallucinations and brain damage
- The researchers looked at 46 pediatric patients diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C) in children.
- MIS-C is a condition in which various parts of the body become inflamed and has been linked to children infected with COVID-19
- Of the 46 children diagnosed with MIS-C, 24 developed neurological symptoms or signs
- All 24 had headaches, while the next common symptom was brain damage known as encephalopathy that affected 14 children
- Less common symptoms were hallucinations, peripheral nerve problems, and seizures
Half of all children who develop a rare inflammatory disease related to COVID-19 have neurological symptoms or signs, according to a new study.
The researchers looked at adolescents diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C), in which different parts of the body become inflamed.
The most common symptom was a headache, but children could also develop more serious side effects such as hallucinations or seizures.
The American Academy of Neurology team says the results show why it is important for doctors to carefully monitor pediatric patients with COVID-19 to see if they develop any of these worrying signs.
In a new study, researchers looked at 46 pediatric patients diagnosed with Childhood Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C), 24 of whom developed neurological symptoms and signs
All 24 had a headache, while the next common symptom was brain damage known as encephalopathy that affected 14 children (file image).
MIS-C was originally thought to be related to Kawasaki disease, a condition that causes inflammation in the walls of blood vessels and mainly affects children under the age of five.
Cases were first reported in the UK, Italy and Spain in April 2020 and surfaced in the US in May.
According to the Cetners for Disease Control and Prevention, a total of 3,185 cases have been confirmed nationwide and at least 36 children have died.
The majority of children and adolescents develop MIS-C between two and four weeks after being infected with the coronavirus.
Not every child who has developed the disease has tested positive for coronavirus, but 98 percent have – enough for doctors to believe the conditions are related.
“With this new inflammatory syndrome that develops after children become infected with the coronavirus, we are still learning how the syndrome affects children and what to look out for,” said study author Dr. Omar Abdel-Mannan from University College London in the USA UK and member of the American Academy of Neurology.
“We found that many children had neurological symptoms that affected both the central and peripheral nervous systems.”
For the study, the team looked at records of children under the age of 18 who were admitted to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London between April 4 and September 1 last year.
Of the children with an average age of 10 years, 46 met the MIS-C criteria.
The results showed that 24 children had neurological symptoms, the most common of which were headaches – all of which were pediatric.
Fourteen children had encephalopathy, damage that affects the brain. six had voice disorders or hoarseness; and six had hallucinations.
Five of the children had ataxia or impaired coordination; three had problems with their peripheral nerves; and one child had seizures.
People with these symptoms are more likely to need a ventilator or medication to stabilize their condition. However, the researchers found no differences in the short-term results.
“Children who develop this condition should definitely be evaluated for neurological symptoms and longer-term cognitive outcomes,” said Abdel-Mannan.
“More studies, involving more children and subsequent children, are needed to see how this condition changes over time and whether there are longer-term neurocognitive effects.”
The results will be presented at the 73rd annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology, which will be practically between April 17-22, 2021.