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Italian Study Finds Link Between Covid19 and Rare Blood Disorder In Children

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May 15, 2020

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Image Credit: Piyal Bhattacharjee

An Italian study published this week in The Lancet has found a link between Covid19 and a sharp increase in a rare pediatric inflammatory disease in children across the globe.

While epidemiologists have been baffled for a few weeks by the sudden manifestation of this new syndrome in children, this study has been able to establish a link between the mysterious disease and Covid19. Researchers believe that this syndrome is an immune overreaction to a Covid19 infection, but they have not been able to pinpoint exactly how this excessive immune reaction gets triggered. “Our study provides the first clear evidence of a link between SARS-CoV-2 infection and this inflammatory condition, and we hope it will help doctors around the world as we try to get to grips with this unknown virus,” said Lorenzo D’Antiga, a co-author of the study, told Bloomberg.

Doctors have found several similarities between this new syndrome and Kawasaki disease, which is characterized by rashes, swollen glands in the neck, dry and cracked lips, and conjunctivitis. However, while Kawasaki disease mainly affects infants or children under the age of five, this “pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome,” as doctors are calling it, is also affecting older children up to the age of 16. Also, in Italy, where the study was based, the new syndrome has already claimed 50 percent more lives in the past month than Kawasaki disease did in the last five years.


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Reports of this new pediatric syndrome are also coming from the U.K., the U.S., France, Italy, Spain and Switzerland.

For Covid19, the elderly were believed to be at higher risk of severe illness, but this new phenomenon is quickly dismantling that belief. “We were all thinking this is a disease that kills old people, not kids,” David Reich, cardiac anesthesiologist and president of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, told The Washington Post. Recalling his experience with pediatric patients with the blood disorder, he said that each of these cases started with gastrointestinal symptoms, at first, before spiraling into inflammatory complications that caused very low blood pressure and expansion of blood vessels — eventually, leading to heart failure and death.

Experts had been struggling to make sense of this mysterious syndrome for a few weeks, but now, there is a link to Covid19. As countries are slowly beginning to ease the lockdown restrictions and re-open schools, the emergence of this facet of Covid19 might complicate the way societies evaluate at-risk populations.

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Written By Devrupa Rakshit

Devrupa Rakshit is an associate editor with The Swaddle. She is a lawyer by education, a poet by accident, and a painter by shaukh. She has her own podcast called #DateNightsWithD on Spotify. You can find her on Instagram @devruparakshit.

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