Doctors have been encountering a new inflammatory syndrome in children, which seems to be linked to 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Experts are still learning more about this virus months into lockdown, and parents are looking for information to make the right choices for their child’s health.
Adam J. Ratner, MD, director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases and pediatrician at Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital at NYU Langone, says that while children seem to be thankfully spared the brunt of the virus, this new entity is something that needs to be studied. Most cases of COVID-19 in children have been very mild, and parents should not panic.
This hyperinflammatory syndrome is being referred to as pediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS), and resembles Kawasaki disease in some cases. Kawasaki disease is an immune disorder seen in children and can affect the heart if not treated. For that reason, it is important to determine whether children presenting with this syndrome have Kawasaki disease.
Dr. Ratner says the scientific community needs to focus on gathering and synthesizing data, and collaborating across state lines to identify and treat PIMS. These cases are still rare, so collecting as much information as possible is key to learning more.
“Parents should not panic about this new twist in the coronavirus saga,” says Dr. Ratner. “COVID-19 remains a mild disease in nearly all children. You should continue to trust your judgment about how your child is doing, reach out to your pediatrician if you need to, and stay safe.”
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