There are sparse patient-level data available for children with novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19). Therefore, there is an urgent need for an updated systematic literature review that analyzes individual children rather than aggregated data in broad age groups.
Six databases (MEDLINE, Scopus, Web of Science, CINAHL, Google Scholar, medRxiv) were searched for studies indexed from January 1 to May 15, 2020, with MeSH terms: children, pediatrics, COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2. 1241 records were identified, of which only unique papers in English with individual patient information and documented COVID-19 testing were included. This review of 22 eligible studies followed Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses of individual participant data guidelines.
A total of 123 patients from five countries were identified. 46% were females. The median age was 5 years (IQR = 8). At presentation, 62% had a fever, 32% had a cough, 58% had a single symptom, and 21% were asymptomatic. Abnormal chest imaging was seen in 62% (65/105) of imaged and 76.9% (20/26) of asymptomatic children. A minority of children had elevated platelets, CRP, lactate dehydrogenase, and D-dimer.
Data from this independent participant data systematic review revealed that the majority of children with COVID-19 presented with either no symptoms or a single, non-respiratory symptom.
This systematic review revealed that the majority of children with COVID-19 presented with either no symptoms or a single, non-respiratory symptom. By using an independent participant data approach, this analysis underscores the challenge of diagnosing COVID-19 in pediatric patients due to the wide variety of symptoms and seemingly poor correlation of imaging findings with symptomatic disease. The data presented from individual patients from case series or cohort studies add more granularity to the current description of pediatric COVID-19.Fig. 1FLOWCHART OF THE STUDY SELECTION PROCESS FOR INDIVIDUAL PATIENT DATA EXTRACTION.: Study selection was done in accordance with the PRISMA IPD guidelines.Fig. 2TRENDS FOR PEDIATRIC COVID-19 PATIENTS BY AGE.: Heat map representing the proportion of patients with each presenting symptom (a), clinical sign (b), or abnormal lab values (c) compared to all patients of that age who had information available. Color code ranges from white (0%) to dark gray (100%). The diagonal line indicates that no patients of that age had information available.