A multidisciplinary team from MassGeneral Hospital for Children (MGHfC), Brigham and Women’s Hospital and other institutions have identified the mechanism of how an extremely rare but serious post-COVID-19 complication develops in children and adolescents. Led by MGHfC pediatric pulmonologist Lael Yonker, MD, researchers determined that viral particles remaining in the gut long after an initial COVID-19 infection can travel into the bloodstream, instigating the condition called Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).
The syndrome can occur several weeks after an initial infection; symptoms include high fever, abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, rash and extreme fatigue. The hyperinflammatory response and “cytokine storm” seen in MIS-C can lead to extensive damage in the heart, liver and other organs.
Sweden kept preschools, primary and lower secondary schools open during the spring of 2020. So far, little research has been done on the risk of children being seriously affected by COVID-19 when the schools were open. A study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden has now shown that one child in 130,000 was treated in an intensive care unit on account of COVID-19 during March-June. The study has been published in New England Journal of Medicine.
So far, more than 80 million people have become ill with COVID-19 and globally, almost two million people have died from the disease. Many countries have closed down parts of society in order to reduce the spread of infection. One such measure has been to close schools.