You may have heard news reports about a possible connection between
COVID-19 and a rare but serious health condition in children called Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C). We continue to watch this newly recognized syndrome very carefully. Scientists from around the world, including pediatric specialists, are working together to understand MIS-C and how best to diagnose and treat it.
The association between COVID-19 and MIS-C is not well understood, and we don't know who is most at risk for this illness. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) wants to reassure parents that very few children get severely ill from the virus that causes COVID-19. In addition, most diagnosed with MIS-C have recovered after getting medical care.
What we know
Children with MIS-C have a fever and inflammation in their body that is confirmed by lab tests. While different, the condition shares some of the symptoms of other rare childhood conditions such as Kawasaki Disease.
Symptoms of MIS-C
Children with MIS-C may become very ill with signs of inflammation in many or all of their internal organs, such as the intestines, heart, lungs, and kidneys. Contact your child's pediatrician right away if you notice any of these symptoms:
- a fever lasting more than 3 days
- abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting
- neck pain
- rash or changes in skin color
- seems extra tired
- trouble breathing
- pain of pressure in the chest that doesn't go away
- becoming confused
- unable to wake up or stay awake
- bluish lips or face
Be sure to let your pediatrician or emergency care providers know if your child has tested positive for COVID-19 or has been exposed to someone with the virus within the past four weeks. Your pediatrician will let you know you if your child can be seen in the office or if you need to go to the emergency department or call 911 right away.
Diagnosis & treatment
There are a few different tests doctors may use to help diagnose MIS-C, including:
- Blood tests
- Chest x-ray
- Heart ultrasound (echocardiogram)
- Abdominal ultrasound
In addition, medicines to treat the inflammation and fluids can help your child feel better. Most children who become ill with MIS-C will need to be treated in the hospital. Some will need to receive care in the pediatric intensive care unit.
The best way to prevent MIS-C is to continue taking steps that help avoid exposure to COVID-19. For example, remember to:
- Wash hands often using soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
- Avoid people who are sick and keep a 6-foot distance between your child and people outside your household.
- Wear cloth face coverings;
- Clean and disinfecting “high touch" surfaces daily
- Wash laundry and plush toys as needed on the warmest setting advised, and drying them fully.
Call your pediatrician with any questions or concerns about your child. Do not be afraid to go to the pediatrician's office for sick or well-child visits, vaccines, or if your child is sick. It is especially important that children get recommended immunizations according to schedule. Your pediatrician cares about your child's health and is taking extra steps to make sure everyone is safe when they come in.