You may have heard news reports about a possible connection between
COVID-19 and a rare but serious health condition in children called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C). Scientists from around the world, including pediatric specialists, are working together to understand MIS-C and how best to diagnose and treat it.
The link between COVID-19 and MIS-C is not well understood, and we are trying to learn if some children are more at risk. 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. So far, most children who have been 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 gets confirmed from lab tests. While different, MIS-C has some of the same symptoms as other rare childhood conditions such as
Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome. Children with MIS-C may also have thrombosis (blood clots), poor heart function, or kidney injury.
The best thing you can do to protect your child is to
call your pediatrician if you have
any concerns about your child's health.
Symptoms of MIS-C
Children with MIS-C are very ill with a fever for 24 hours or more, have inflammation in their bodies and problems with many organs, such as the intestines, heart, brain, lungs, skin, and kidneys.
Contact your child's pediatrician right away if you notice any of these symptoms:
fever (100.4 degrees Fahrenheit or higher) lasting 24 hours or more
abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting
rash or changes in skin color
seems extra tired
shortness of breath
pain or pressure in the chest that doesn't go away
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 can 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 and treatment
There are a few different tests doctors may use to help diagnose MIS-C, including:
Depending on your child's symptoms and test results, treatment may include:
steroids to help treat swelling or inflammation
Intravenous immune globulin (IVIG), a “biologic" medicine that contains immune-system antibodies
Fluids given through a vein
Heart medicines or low-dose aspirin
Children who become ill with MIS-C need to be treated in the hospital, according to the CDC. Some will need to receive care in the pediatric intensive care unit.
Children with MIS-C will need to see a pediatric cardiologist two or three weeks after leaving the hospital. MIS-C can cause the wall of the heart to be inflamed (myocarditis). Patients with myocarditis will be restricted from activities like exercise or
sports for a period of time. Children treated with steroids or a biologic medicine should also follow up with a
The best way to prevent MIS-C is to keep taking steps to help avoid exposure to COVID-19. For example, remember to:
While MIS-C sounds frightening, remember that this condition is still very rare.
Call your pediatrician with any questions. Don't forget to make an appointment for
well-child visits, too. All children should get recommended immunizations, including a
flu shot, on time.