The rare syndrome that affects some children after overcoming COVID-19

1 in 5,000 children who are infected with coronavirus suffer from PIMS, after their recovery.

Girl wearing mask

It is a rare condition but one that has been detected in different countries since the beginning of the pandemic. Photo: Freepik

LatinAmerican Post | Brandon Martínez Salazar

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Leer en español: El raro síndrome que afecta a algunos niños tras superar el COVID-19

At the beginning of April, in Chile, the death of a minor under 11 years old and an adolescent 16 years old was reported. The two deaths were due to a condition related to the coronavirus . According to experts, both deaths have to do with a rare disease known as pediatric multisystemic inflammatory syndrome (PIMS). It is a rare condition but one that has been detected in different countries since the beginning of the pandemic.

According to data published in February by the Royal School of Pediatrics and Child Health in the United Kingdom, one in five thousand children who are infected with covid-19 develop PIMS, which is equivalent to 0.02% of this infected population. On the other hand, the Mayo Clinic in the United States qualifies this syndrome as a serious disease.

Likewise, specialists who study these cases on time, affirm that they already have evidence, but there are still many questions that must be answered about PIMS, especially to understand what its causes and risk factors are in affected people.

Also read: Pregnant women hospitalized for COVID-19 infection do not face increased risk of death

However, they assure that it is a treatable condition, but it is essential to diagnose it in time to avoid complications and tragic endings .

Red flags to identify PIMS

Although few people get to suffer from it and those who develop it tend to be asymptomatic or simply present mild symptoms, this syndrome generates serious complications in various parts of the body such as inflammation in the tissues, the heart, the lungs, the kidneys, the brain, skin and eyes, according to information published on the Mayo Clinic website.

Meanwhile, the health center assures that many children recover from this condition when it is treated promptly, but also warns that "some children deteriorate rapidly, to the point where their lives are in danger."

As of March 1, 2021, 2,617 cases of PIMS have been registered in the United States , according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Of which 33 ended up dying, an equivalent to 1.26% . However, in countries like Mexico, curiously, there has been a mortality rate of 30% of patients .

The early signs to detect it are: severe stomach pain, shortness of breath, bluish lips or face, disorientation, inability to wake up or stay awake . And the most common symptoms include: fever, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and neck pain.

Causes of PIMS

It is still very uncertain to answer the cause of PIMS, since it is not clear if it is an excessive response of the immune system to COVID-19 . It can occur in children and young people without comorbidities that exceed the coronavirus and subsequently, three to six weeks later develop an irregular immune response .

Dr. Javier Bravo, director of the Chilean Pediatric Emergency Society, explained to BBC Mundo that this is because children do not have a mature immune system and, therefore, do not generate such a large response during infection.

After infection, a dysregulation of your own defense system may occur, causing this inflammatory response that experts call "cytokine storms."

Prevention and treatment

The only way to prevent PIMS is not beeing infected with coronavirus and that translates into following biosecurity measures so that children do not get infected and thus do not suffer from this syndrome. Likewise, with herd immunization as a result of vaccination campaigns, these cases will be reduced.

This disease is treated with anti-inflammatory drugs and drugs that facilitate the work of the heart with the help of oxygen in special cases.

Bravo explains that antibiotics can also be included , not precisely to treat the syndrome but to suppress any type of infection that is not being noticed derived from PIMS itself.