The current evidence indicates that the severity of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is lower in the pediatric population but local data are still limited. Objective: To characterize the clinical and epidemiological aspects of COVID-19 infection in patients younger than 18 years in Argentina.
Cross-sectional, observational, and analytical study of confirmed COVID-19 patients aged 0-18 years seen between March 2020 and March 2021 at 19 referral children’s hospitals of Argentina. A multivariate analysis was done to identify predictors of severe cases.
A total of 2690 COVID-19 cases were included: 77.7% lived in the Metropolitan Area of Buenos Aires; 50.1% were males; patients’ median age was 5.6 years. Of them, 90% were seen during epidemiological weeks 20-47 of 2020; 60.4% had a history of contact with COVID-19 patients; and 96.6% in their family setting. Also, 51.4% had respiratory symptoms; 61.6%, general symptoms; 18.8%, gastrointestinal symptoms; 17.1%, neurological symptoms; 7.2%, other symptoms; and 21.5% were asymptomatic. In addition, 59.4% of patients were hospitalized and 7.4% had a severe or critical course. A total of 57 patients developed multisystem inflammatory syndrome. A history of asthma, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, congenital heart disease, moderate to severe malnutrition, obesity, chronic neurological disease and/or age younger than 6 months were independent predictors of severity. Living in a vulnerable neighborhood was a protective factor.
More than half of cases referred a history of contact with COVID-19 patients in the family setting. Hospitalization was not based on clinical criteria of severity. Severity was associated with the presence of certain comorbidities.