TUESDAY, May 12, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Severe illness from COVID-19 infection occurs in some children, most of whom have significant preexisting comorbidities, according to a study published online May 11 in JAMA Pediatrics.

Lara S. Shekerdemian, M.D., from Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston, and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional study involving children positive for COVID-19 admitted to 46 North American pediatric intensive care units (PICUs) between March 14 and April 3, 2020, with follow-up to April 10, 2020.

A total of 48 children with COVID-19 were admitted to participating PICUs. The researchers found that 40 patients (83 percent) had significant preexisting comorbidities. Overall, 35 of the patients (73 percent) presented with respiratory symptoms, and invasive ventilation was required for 18 (38 percent). Failure of two or more organ systems was reported by 11 patients (23 percent). In 28 patients (61 percent), targeted therapies were used, with hydroxychloroquine the most commonly used (alone in 11 patients; in combination with another therapy for 10 patients). Two patients (4 percent) had died at the end of follow-up and 15 (31 percent) were still hospitalized, with three requiring ventilator support and one receiving extracorporeal membrane oxygenation. For those who were discharged, the median PICU and hospital length of stay were five and seven days, respectively.

“Our observations provide an important platform for further detailed studies of COVID-19 in children, with larger cohorts and longer periods of follow-up,” the authors write.

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