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Vanderbilt doctors see rare inflammatory syndrome in children associated with COVID-19

Vanderbilt Children's Hospital
Posted at 9:25 PM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-04 06:38:05-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is investigating multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, a rare but serious complication associated with COVID-19.

The CDC says the multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, or gastrointestinal organs. Children with MIS-C may have a fever and various symptoms, including abdominal (gut) pain, vomiting, diarrhea, neck pain, rash, bloodshot eyes, or feeling extra tired.

We do not yet know what causes MIS-C. However, many children with MIS-C had the virus that causes COVID-19, or had been around someone with COVID-19.

"In the past couple of weeks we've seen a real decrease in the number of children admitted to the hospital with a positive COVID test," said Dr. Leigh Howard, assistant professor of pediatrics and infectious diseases at Vanderbilt.

This is good news in the fight against the coronavirus, but Dr. Howard, says there's been an increase in MIS-C.

"What we have been seeing more of in the past week or two has been the multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, known as MIS-C," said Howard. "It typically develops four to six week after kids have exposure to COVID. Sometimes they know they have exposure to COVID, sometimes they don’t know they had exposure to COVID."

Dr. Howard says doctors at Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt have seen 30 cases since late Summer of 2020 and 10 of those within the last month.

She says MIS-C is usually found in healthy kids, and around 25 percent will have an underlying health issue.

Howard says if your child gets COVID-19 or has already had it but it doesn't mean they'll get MIS-C.

"We typically only see this MIS-C developed in about one in every 15- hundred children who has COVID."

Dr. Howard says she doesn't want parents to be in fear, just aware. She says doctors are still studying the long-term affects MIS-C has on children who get the condition.

"We developed a clinic here where we'll be following these patients really, really closely at several intervals for the year after they developed MIS-C to look for some of the long term consequences."

Howard says the patients at Children's with MIS-C have shown to recover from the condition.