BREAKING! University Of Utah Study Alarmingly Shows That SARS-CoV-2 Is Increasing The Risk Of Strokes In Children Even In The Asymptomatic!
: Study findings from a new research conducted by medical scientists from the University of Utah School of Medicine alarmingly shows that prior COVID-19 infections increase the risk of strokes in children. The study also found that even children who were asymptomatic upon infections with the SARS-CoV-2 virus were still at risk of developing strokes! It should be noted that stroke manifestations or symptoms in children are slightly different from that seen in adults, hence making initial diagnosis difficult at times.
Although we already have existing proof from previous clinical studies that there is an increased risk of stroke in adults with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (coronavirus disease 2019 [COVID-19]) infection, till now, it was still unclear if there was a similar association with strokes in children.
The study team’s objective was to determine whether there is a correlation between COVID-19 infection, multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), and pediatric ischemic stroke.
The study team conducted a retrospective, population-based cohort analysis between March 1, 2020, and June 30, 2021, at a children's hospital.
Pediatric patients with a diagnosis of ischemic stroke were identified using ICD-10 diagnoses of ischemic stroke, cerebrovascular accident, or cerebral infarction.
The study team identified 16 patients, seven male and nine female, with ischemic stroke. Ages were 8 months to 17 years (median 11.5 years). More Asian (6%) and black (13%) patients had strokes compared with population prevalence (2% each, respectively). No patients had active COVID-19 infection. COVID-19 antibodies were identified in five of 11 patients tested (45%), of whom three were diagnosed with MIS-C. 82% of the strokes occurred between February and May 2021. The peak incidence was in February 2021, which was two months after peak incidence of pediatric cases of COVID-19 and one month after the peak of MIS-C cases.
The study findings showed that prior COVID-19 infection, but not acute infection, is correlated with a risk for stroke in the pediatric population. The risk for stroke appears to be distinct from the risk for MIS-C.
The study findings were published in the peer reviewed journal: Pediatric Neurology.
Lead researcher, Dr MaryGlen J. Vielleux, M.D., a pediatric neurology resident at University of Utah Health told Thailand Medical News, "It may be that hyper-immune response that comes later that's causing kids to clot. Overall, kids have a relatively low risk for stroke, but there is a rare but real risk after COVID."
While previous research that has been covered in various COVID-19 News
coverages has shown that adults with COVID are at higher risk of stroke, that link has not previously been made with children. That may in part be because kids who do experience strokes generally have better medical outcomes than adults.
However, worryingly at the beginning of 2021, pediatric
neurologists in Salt Lake City began to notice what appeared to be a growing number of stroke patients. These were kids who were seemingly healthy before experiencing a stroke.
Many of these pediatric neurologists wondered whether this was a true increase and how it might compare to stroke numbers historically. They also wanted to know whether the apparent increase had any connection to the peak in COVID cases a few months before or to the rise in Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C).
Co-researcher, Dr Joshua L. Bonkowsky, M.D., Ph.D., and Chief of the Division of Pediatric Neurology at University of Utah Health and Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital added, "If we see one kid with a stroke a month, that would be pretty typical. However, we were seeing three cases a week for multiple weeks in a row."
From the detailed analysis of medical charts and diagnosis codes, the study team were able to identify 16 patients at the hospital who had an ischemic stroke between March 2020 and June 2021. Most of those took place between February and May 2021, shortly after the surge of COVID pediatric cases in the Mountain West region.
Interestingly, of those tested for COVID antibodies, nearly half tested positive. None of the 16 had been severely sick with the virus and some had been asymptomatic. Five patients were not tested for past COVID infection, a limitation of the study.
The study team added, “Pediatric stroke is very rare, so it is difficult to do a large study even at a major regional institution.”
The study findings did show that the overall number of strokes was significantly higher than what had been seen historically at Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital. Over the past five years, the number of children with strokes of uncertain origins had averaged around 4 per year. In the first six months of 2021, the hospital cared for 13 kids with a stroke of unknown origins.
The Intermountain Primary Children's Hospital serves children from multiple states in the Mountain West. Any child in the region who has a stroke receives treatment at the hospital. That gives clinicians a unique ability to get a comprehensive snapshot of certain medical conditions such as stroke.
This study findings are in contrast to the findings of a 2021 international study of children early in the pandemic that suggested COVID did not cause an increased risk of stroke in children. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33332607/
However, that study had a limitation of using data from only three months of the pandemic.
This new study also showed that the risk of stroke is independent of whether or not the patient has Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C), a known complication of COVID. Only three of the patients had confirmed cases of MIS-C.
It was also found that of the 16 kids studied, most had few lingering impacts from their stroke by the time they left the hospital.
The study team hopes this new study highlights the need for early evaluation of neurologic symptoms in children to rule out the possibility of stroke. Children often do not display the symptoms commonly associated with stroke in adults.
Children may have weakness on one side of the body but can often have an altered mental state or difficulty walking.
Most importantly the study findings show that even kids who were asymptomatic from COVID could go on to experience a serious complication like stroke, warns Dr Vielleux.
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