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COVID-19: study suggests neurological symptoms in some children with inflammatory syndrome PIMS-TS

Preliminary findings in study of 46 children found half had symptoms including headaches, encephalopathy and hallucinations 
Great Ormond Street Hospital

Preliminary findings in study of 46 children found half had symptoms including headaches, encephalopathy and hallucinations

Half of children who developed paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome associated with COVID-19 displayed neurological symptoms or signs when they entered hospital, preliminary research indicates.

A UK study found 24 out of 46 children with paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome temporally associated with Sars-CoV-2 (PIMS-TS), who were admitted to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, presented with new symptoms involving both the central and peripheral nervous systems without displaying any respiratory symptoms.

Neurological symptoms including headaches, encephalopathy and hallucinations were seen more frequently in those with

Preliminary findings in study of 46 children found half had symptoms including headaches, encephalopathy and hallucinations

Picture: Alamy

Half of children who developed paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome associated with COVID-19 displayed neurological symptoms or signs when they entered hospital, preliminary research indicates.

A UK study found 24 out of 46 children with paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome temporally associated with Sars-CoV-2 (PIMS-TS), who were admitted to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London, presented with new symptoms involving both the central and peripheral nervous systems – without displaying any respiratory symptoms.

Neurological symptoms – including headaches, encephalopathy and hallucinations – were seen more frequently in those with more severe disease.

Use of ventilator increased following neurological symptoms

Children with neurological symptoms were more likely to need a ventilator and drugs to help stabilise their blood circulation than the children without neurological symptoms, according to a study abstract that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 73rd Annual Meeting.

However, there were no differences in terms of demographics, inflammatory markers, management or short-term outcomes between the two groups.

Study author Omar Abdel-Mannan said: ‘With this new inflammatory syndrome that develops after children are infected with the coronavirus, we are still learning how the syndrome affects them and what we need to watch out for.’

Children displayed a variety of neurological symptoms

The researchers reviewed the records of all children under 18 admitted to Great Ormond Street Hospital in London between 4 April and 1 September 2020 who met the criteria for PIMS-TS. They identified 46 children with an average age of 10.

Of those, 24 children had neurological symptoms or signs they had not experienced previously.

Twenty-four experienced headaches, 14 had encephalopathy, six had voice abnormalities or hoarseness, six had hallucinations and five had ataxia, with symptoms including impaired coordination.

In addition, three children had problems with their peripheral nerves and one child experienced seizures.

Longer-term neurocognitive effects must be evaluated, study author says

Dr Abdel-Mannan said children who develop PIMS-TS should be evaluated for neurologic symptoms and longer-term cognitive outcomes.

‘More studies are needed involving more children, following them to see how this condition changes over time and if there are any longer-term neurocognitive effects,’ he added.

The study abstract has been peer-reviewed for the conference, and a paper containing the data has been peer-reviewed and is currently at the pre-publication stage.


Read more about the research

Neurologic and radiographic findings associated with Pediatric Inflammatory Multisystem Syndrome Temporally associated with SARS-CoV-2 (PIMS-TS) in Children


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