With COVID-19 Affecting Kids, Here is What You Need to Know About MIS-C

As more adults become vaccinated, the age group that is seeing some of the most explosive growth of COVID-19 includes children not yet eligible for the vaccine. While it is true that COVID-19 is generally not as serious in children as it is in adults, that does not mean that the younger population is not still susceptible to developing complications as a result of the virus.

One of the most alarming side effects of COVID-19 in the younger set is the development of the multisystem inflammation syndrome in children known as MIS-C. Here is what you need to know about MIS-C.

Understanding MIS-C

MIS-C is best explained as a post-infectious inflammatory condition. The inflammation happens when the body's immune system works harder to fight off the infection generated by COVID-19. As a result of this extra response, dangerous levels of inflammation may begin to infiltrate other organs in the body.

Some of the systems that are most negatively affected by this inflammation include the heart, the skin, the eyes, and the gastrointestinal tract. This complication generally appears a few weeks after the onset of the COVID-19 infection.

Risks of MIS-C

It is important to note that MIS-C is still a relatively rare side effect of COVID-19 in children. A recent study published in JAMA Network Open detailed an approximate rate of 316 cases of MIS-C per 1,000,000 COVID-19 cases in individuals under the age of 21.

The study by Boston Children’s Hospital and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also demonstrated that certain ethnic groups have a tendency to show higher rates of MIS-C. The researchers looked at the data from 248 cases of MIS-C in people under the age of 20. Among the individuals who tested positive for COVID-19, there were higher rates of MIS-C in children who were Black, Latino or Hispanic, and Asian or Pacific Islander when compared to their white counterparts.

It has been known for some time that those groups were more susceptible to developing COVID-19 for a variety of reasons. However, this new study showed that there is also a higher chance that these populations would go on to develop MIS-C independent of their individual COVID-19 risk.

Signs and Symptoms of MIS-C

The most common sign of an MIS-C infection is a fever of varying degrees that continues for at least three or four days. Other symptoms vary between individuals depending on what systems are most affected by the inflammation. Signs to look out for include bloodshot eyes, a skin rash, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and swollen lips.

Treatment and Prevention of MIS-C

The only way to prevent MIS-C is to take steps to avoid coming down with COVID-19. If your child is over the age of 12, they are now eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine in the US. Children under the age of 12 need to continue to practice social distancing, wear masks, and engage in proper personal hygiene.

If you suspect that your child is not recovering from COVID-19 as expected or if the symptoms seem to backslide after showing improvement, it is vital that you contact your healthcare provider. They will be able to assess the situation and determine whether your child is experiencing inflammation related to the virus.

Healthcare providers have found success in treating MIS-C through the use of intravenous fluids. There are also specific medications that can work to lower inflammation in the body. If the MIS-C is attacking the heart, doctors may need to order treatments to help the heart function while aiding in breathing. As one of the most serious complications of MIS-C, cardiogenic shock needs to be addressed immediately.

One of the most concerning aspects of MIS-C is that the symptoms can go from mild to extremely serious in a matter of hours. This potential of a rapid decline in health makes it important that parents trust their gut instincts and seek help immediately if something seems off in their child. Being aware of this condition and knowing the signs and the risks can help parents to make the best medical decisions for their child.

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