Children Of African Ancestry At Higher Risk Of Inflammatory Syndrome Linked To COVID-19, Study Suggests

PARIS — Doctors and researchers seem to constantly learn new things about the coronavirus as it continues to shake the world since the end of 2019. An investigation into the rare multisystem inflammatory syndrome afflicting children that is purportedly linked to COVID-19 may offer some insight into who is most at risk for the mysterious condition. Researchers say that the syndrome appears to be more common in children of African ancestry.

The characteristics of the syndrome are very similar to Kawasaki Disease — an illness that causes inflammation in blood vessels throughout the body. Researchers report that this inflammatory syndrome may be an “antibody mediated or delayed response” to COVID-19.

The observational study describes the condition of 21 children (average age of about 8 years old) who were admitted to a hospital in Paris between April 27 and May 11, 2020. Just over half the patients (12) were of African ancestry. All 21 patients displayed gastrointestinal symptoms including abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea, and all of the children had high levels of an inflammatory biomarker in their bloodstream.

More than half the patients presented Kawasaki disease (12) and the majority of the patients (16) displayed myocarditis, inflammation of the heart muscle. Most of the patients (19) had evidence of having been infected with COVID-19.

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Even though 17 of the patients were placed into the intensive care unit of the hospital, all were discharged from the hospital after an average of 8 days, with no serious complications. At least this syndrome does not seem too serious so far.

The authors note this study has a small sample size since it’s an observational study, but similar cases have been seen in hospitals in Italy, the U.S. and the United Kingdom. They cannot confirm a link between this ailment and COVID-19, but they hope their findings will cause doctors to be more attentive to children that display this Kawasaki-like inflammatory syndrome.

“These clinical findings should prompt high vigilance among primary care and emergency doctors, and preparedness during the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic in countries with a high proportion of children of African ancestry and high levels of community transmission,” the authors conclude.

The study is published in The BMJ.

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