What is it about?
Children and young people appear to be less affected, compared with adults, by severe COVID-19, with most experiencing mild symptoms, or even no symptoms at all. However, some adults with rheumatic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, especially those whose disease is very active, or those receiving certain medications, are at a higher risk of more severe COVID-19 (i.e. death) compared with adults without arthritis. Is it unknown whether children and young people with rheumatic diseases, such as juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), are likely to have more severe COVID-19. What was discovered? This study, investigating 607 children and young people with rheumatic diseases including JIA and lupus, found that very few (around one-in-twenty; 7%) were hospitalised due to COVID-19. Those that were hospitalised experienced mild symptoms, with four-in-five of those hospitalised not needing any additional oxygen treatment. Children and young people were more likely to be hospitalised if they had a diagnosis of lupus or vasculitis (a rare rheumatic disease which causes inflammation of blood vessels) compared with those who had JIA. In addition, those who were obese (BMI ≥30) were more likely to be hospitalised, although only a small number of patients in this study were obese (6%). Those children and young people treated with biologic therapies, such as TNF inhibitors, did not experience more severe COVID-19. The small number of patients who died were from countries with limited healthcare resources.
Photo by Robert Collins on Unsplash
Why is it important?
Whilst it remains important to follow national COVID-19 guidance to minimising risk of infection, parents and families can be reassured that these data show that children and young people with rheumatic diseases who acquire COVID-19 are not at high risk of severe COVID-19. The data showed for the first time that obesity is an important factor in children with rheumatic diseases, supporting that protection measures in those children should be strictly followed.
Read the Original
This page is a summary of: Outcomes of SARS-CoV-2 infection among children and young people with pre-existing rheumatic and musculoskeletal diseases, Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, March 2022, BMJ, DOI: 10.1136/annrheumdis-2022-222241.
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