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09-11-2020 | ACR 2020 | Conference coverage | News

COVID-19 may be rare in children with rheumatic diseases

Author: Laura Cowen


medwireNews: COVID-19 is uncommon in children with rheumatic diseases and appears to result in mild illness when it occurs, suggest data presented at the ACR Convergence 2020 virtual meeting.

Jonathan Hausmann, from the Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts, USA, reported that of the 427 children enrolled in the COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance (C19-GRA) Patient Experience Survey, just five (1.2%) were diagnosed with suspected COVID-19 between April 3 and May 8, 2020, and none required hospitalization.

The children who participated in the study were mainly female (63.0%), White (73.3%), resided in the Americas (64.9%), and were typically between 5 and 14 years of age (64.9%) with a parent-reported median disease activity score of 2.4 (as measured on a visual analog scale of 0–10, where 0=very good and 10=very poor) at the time of COVID-19 exposure.

The majority (40.7%) had juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and most were taking conventional synthetic DMARDs (54.6%) and/or biologic DMARDs (51.8%).

The researchers found that just 4% of families stopped or delayed medications, most commonly CD20 inhibitors, due to concerns about immunosuppression.

Among the children with COVID-19, the most commonly reported symptoms were malaise (80%), and fever, headache, sore throat, and arthralgia (all 60%).

Hausmann explained that the international C19-GRA Patient Experience Survey was distributed to adults and parents of children with rheumatic disease online through patient support organizations and on social media. He said that this could be a limitation of the study as parents engaged in social media may not fully represent the pediatric rheumatology population.

Other limitations include self-reported data, which could not be verified, and the fact that the study took place early in the course of the pandemic and may not represent the current situation.

In spite of these limitations, Hausmann concluded that the results “suggest continuation of immunosuppression in children with rheumatic disease during the pandemic, which was in agreement with recent ACR guidelines.”

medwireNews is an independent medical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Ltd. © 2020 Springer Healthcare Ltd, part of the Springer Nature Group

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ACR Convergence virtual meeting; 5–9 November 2020