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Childhood COVID Syndrome Grows, New Cases Look To Be More Severe

Childhood COVID Syndrome Grows

Childhood COVID Syndrome: Braden Wilson, 15, was afraid of Childhood COVID-19. He was careful to wear masks and only left his home in Simi Valley, Calif., For things like orthodontist checkups and visits with his nearby grandparents. But somehow, the virus found Braden.

It has caused ruthless damage in the form of an inflammatory syndrome, which, for unknown reasons, strikes some young people, usually several weeks after infection with the coronavirus.

Doctors at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles put the teenager on a ventilator and a heart-lung bypass machine. But they couldn’t prevent his major organs from breaking down.

On January 5, “they officially declared that he was brain dead,” said his mother, Amanda Wilson, sobbing. “My boy was gone.

Doctors across the country have seen a striking increase in the number of young people with Braden’s disease, called pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome or MIS-C. Even more worrying, they say, is that more patients are now very sick than in the first wave of cases, which alarmed doctors and parents around the world last spring.

“We are now getting more of these MIS-C children, but this time around, it looks like a higher percentage of them are really seriously ill,” said Dr. Roberta DeBiasi, head of infectious diseases at Children’s National Hospital. Washington, DC During the hospital’s first wave, about half of patients needed treatment in the intensive care unit, she said, but now 80 to 90 percent do.

The reasons are not clear. The outbreak follows the global peak in COVID cases in the United States after the winter holiday season, and more cases may increase the chances of serious illness developing.

So far, there is no evidence that recent coronavirus variants are responsible, and experts say it is too early to speculate on the effect of the variants on the syndrome.

The condition remains rare. The latest figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show 2,060 cases in 48 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, including 30 deaths.

The median age was 9 years, but infants up to 20 years were reached. The data, which is not complete until mid-December, shows the case rate has been increasing since mid-October.

While most young people, even those who have fallen seriously ill, have survived and returned home in relatively healthy condition, doctors are unsure whether some will have persistent heart problems or other problems.

“We really don’t know what’s going to happen in the long term,” said Dr. Jean Ballweg, medical director of pediatric heart transplantation and advanced heart failure at Children’s Hospital & Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska, where, from April to October, the hospital treated about two cases per month, of which about 30% in ICU.

That number rose to 10 cases in December and 12 in January, with 60% needing intensive care – most requiring ventilators. “Obviously, they seem to be sicker,” she said.

Symptoms of the syndrome may include fever, rash, red eyes, or gastrointestinal problems. These can progress to heart dysfunction, including cardiogenic shock, in which the heart cannot squeeze enough to pump blood enough.

Some patients develop cardiomyopathy, which stiffens the heart muscle or an abnormal rhythm. Ballweg said a 15-year-old woman at her hospital needed a procedure that worked as a temporary pacemaker.

Hospitals say most patients are tested positive for COVID antibodies, which indicate a previous infection, but some patients also test positive for active infection. Many children were previously healthy and had little or no symptoms from their initial COVID infection.

Doctors do not know what factors predispose children to Childhood COVID syndrome. Dr. Jane Newburger, deputy chief of academic affairs in the cardiology department at Boston Children’s Hospital, leading a national study, said obese patients and some older children seemed to be doing well less good.

Sixty-nine percent of the reported cases have affected young Latinos or blacks, which experts say stems from socio-economic and other factors that have disproportionately exposed these communities to the virus.

But the Omaha hospital, where the first cases were largely among children of Latino parents working in the meatpacking industry, “now sees a much broader spectrum and all ethnicities,” Ballweg said.

4-year-old Jude Knott was hospitalized in Omaha for 10 days after developing headaches, fever, vomiting, red eyes, and a rapid heart rate.

“It was just a roller coaster,” said her mother, Ashley Knott, a career coach with an Omaha nonprofit that helps low-income teens.

To explain to Jude the intravenous immunoglobulin infusions the doctors gave her, she said that they “put Ninjas in your blood so they can fight.”

For the anticoagulant injections, which he hated, she said: run your blood from a milkshake to water because we need it to be water—everything to help him understand.

Jude recently returned to kindergarten full time. He has some dilation of a coronary artery but is improving, his mother said.

“He definitely has some anxiety,” Knott said. “I’m just worried he’s struggling with adult worries at 4 years old.”

Doctors said they learned of effective treatments that, in addition to steroids, immunoglobulins, and blood thinners, can include blood pressure medications, an immunomodulator called anakinra, and supplemental oxygen. Some hospitals use ventilators more than others, experts said.

But although doctors learn more, pediatricians may miss the syndrome early on, as the early symptoms can mimic some common conditions.

At a memorial service on February 5, Braden Wilson was remembered as a generous and creative-hearted teenager who loved the cinema and fashion. His color-splashed oil paintings have been exhibited.

His mother read a poem he wrote and which hangs in the refrigerator of his grandparents, Fabian and Joe Wilson, with whom he was close: “Hold on to dreams / because if dreams create / life is a beautiful canvas / a well-painted masterpiece.”

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