A Health Alert for Parents: COVID-19 and Children

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A special health alert for parents concerning COVID-19 and children. A message from Edward Elmhurst Heath and Dr. Jennifer McNulty, a pediatric emergency medicine physician and medical director of the Kids E-R at Edward Hospital

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued a nationwide alert to warn doctors about a rare but dangerous illness in children believed to be linked to COVID-19.

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children or MIS-C was first reported in the United Kingdom.

In the United States, three children from New York have died so far from the condition and at least 100 possible cases are under investigation there. Chicago area hospitals have reported cases as well.

Preliminary data show most of the children affected are ages 5 to 14.

Some experts believe MIS-C is a post-viral syndrome, or an overreaction by the body’s immune system to COVID-19.

Many children affected either had exposure to someone with COVID-19, tested positive for COVID-19 or had positive antibody tests, meaning their immune system created antibodies in response to the virus.

Parents should be aware of the warning signs of MIS-C, which show up several weeks to a month after exposure to COVID-19, and generally don’t include the typical respiratory symptoms associated with it.

Be on the lookout for the following symptoms in your child:

  • Persistent, prolonged high fever – 4 days or more
  • Lethargy
  • Skin rash or discoloration – pale, patchy or blue skin
  • Red eyes, lips and tongue
  • Swollen hands and feet
  • No appetite, difficulty feeding in infants
  • Abdominal pain, vomiting or diarrhea
  • Racing heart, trouble breathing, chest pain
  • Decreased urination
  • Irritability, confusion

Though uncommon, MIS-C is still a serious complication and some children may become very sick.

Prompt treatment is important and may include blood thinners, I-V immunoglobulin and corticosteroids.

More information is needed to better understand the new syndrome and its connection to COVID-19.

In the meantime, parents, it’s important to trust your instincts.

If you notice any of the symptoms, call your child’s doctor right away or go to the hospital. Don’t let fear of the virus stop or delay you from getting medical care for your child.

We’re working with the pediatric infectious disease teams at Comer Children’s Hospital and University of Chicago Medicine to ensure that the children in our area receive the best care possible.

For the latest information about COVID-19, visit EEHealth.org.

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