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Hospitalization Rates Overestimate COVID-19 Burden in Children

Almost 40 percent of the SARS-CoV-2-positive pediatric patients with hospitalization were asymptomatic

sick child in hospital

WEDNESDAY, May 19, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- Reported hospitalization rates overestimate the burden of COVID-19 in children, according to a study published online May 19 in Hospital Pediatrics.

Lauren E. Kushner, M.D., from Stanford University in California, and colleagues characterized the severity of illness and likelihood of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection as the cause of hospitalization among pediatric patients. Participants had positive SARS-CoV-2 nasopharyngeal testing or were diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) and were hospitalized between May 10, 2020, and Feb. 10, 2021. Hospitalizations were categorized as likely or unlikely to be caused by SARS-CoV-2 and disease severity was classified.

The researchers found that 39.3 percent of the 117 patients with hospitalization were asymptomatic, while 28.2, 7.7, and 12.8 percent had mild-to-moderate disease, severe illness, and critical illness, respectively. Twelve percent of the patients had MIS-C. Of the admissions, 45 percent were classified as being unlikely to be caused by SARS-CoV-2.

"It's really important that we distinguish between children who are hospitalized with asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infections and those hospitalized for COVID-19 disease," a coauthor said in a statement. "Our goal is to make sure we have accurate data on how sick children are getting. If we rely on hospitals' positive SARS-CoV-2 test results, we are inflating by about twofold the actual risk of hospitalization from the disease in kids."

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