Neurologic Involvement in Children and Adolescents Hospitalized in the United States for COVID-19 or Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome

Academic Article

Abstract

  • Importance: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) affects the nervous system in adult patients. The spectrum of neurologic involvement in children and adolescents is unclear. Objective: To understand the range and severity of neurologic involvement among children and adolescents associated with COVID-19. Setting, Design, and Participants: Case series of patients (age <21 years) hospitalized between March 15, 2020, and December 15, 2020, with positive severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 test result (reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction and/or antibody) at 61 US hospitals in the Overcoming COVID-19 public health registry, including 616 (36%) meeting criteria for multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children. Patients with neurologic involvement had acute neurologic signs, symptoms, or diseases on presentation or during hospitalization. Life-threatening involvement was adjudicated by experts based on clinical and/or neuroradiologic features. Exposures: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. Main Outcomes and Measures: Type and severity of neurologic involvement, laboratory and imaging data, and outcomes (death or survival with new neurologic deficits) at hospital discharge. Results: Of 1695 patients (909 [54%] male; median [interquartile range] age, 9.1 [2.4-15.3] years), 365 (22%) from 52 sites had documented neurologic involvement. Patients with neurologic involvement were more likely to have underlying neurologic disorders (81 of 365 [22%]) compared with those without (113 of 1330 [8%]), but a similar number were previously healthy (195 [53%] vs 723 [54%]) and met criteria for multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (126 [35%] vs 490 [37%]). Among those with neurologic involvement, 322 (88%) had transient symptoms and survived, and 43 (12%) developed life-threatening conditions clinically adjudicated to be associated with COVID-19, including severe encephalopathy (n = 15; 5 with splenial lesions), stroke (n = 12), central nervous system infection/demyelination (n = 8), Guillain-Barré syndrome/variants (n = 4), and acute fulminant cerebral edema (n = 4). Compared with those without life-threatening conditions (n = 322), those with life-threatening neurologic conditions had higher neutrophil-to-lymphocyte ratios (median, 12.2 vs 4.4) and higher reported frequency of D-dimer greater than 3 μg/mL fibrinogen equivalent units (21 [49%] vs 72 [22%]). Of 43 patients who developed COVID-19-related life-threatening neurologic involvement, 17 survivors (40%) had new neurologic deficits at hospital discharge, and 11 patients (26%) died. Conclusions and Relevance: In this study, many children and adolescents hospitalized for COVID-19 or multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children had neurologic involvement, mostly transient symptoms. A range of life-threatening and fatal neurologic conditions associated with COVID-19 infrequently occurred. Effects on long-term neurodevelopmental outcomes are unknown.
  • Authors

    Published In

  • JAMA Neurology  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Larovere KL; Riggs BJ; Poussaint TY; Young CC; Newhams MM; Maamari M; Walker TC; Singh AR; Dapul H; Hobbs CV
  • Start Page

  • 536
  • End Page

  • 547
  • Volume

  • 78
  • Issue

  • 5