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Montefiore in the News
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Montefiore in the News

November 18, 2020

New Research Identifies Which Children Are Most Likely to Need Intensive Care

NEW YORK (November 18, 2020) – Research led by investigators at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Yale School of Medicine, identifies symptoms that can predict how severely children will be affected by COVID-19. The research, published in the Journal of Pediatrics, shows that children with respiratory disease and those with Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C), a rare but serious condition associated with COVID-19, experienced the most severe illness. 

“Much of the discussion to date around COVID-19 suggests that children don’t typically suffer serious illness,” said lead author, Danielle Fernandes, M.D., attending physician, Division of Hospital Medicine, CHAM, and assistant professor of pediatrics at Einstein. “Our study shows that children with COVID-19, like adults, can experience symptoms ranging from mild to severe, and tragically, children can die from the disease.”

The investigators assessed 281 children hospitalized with COVID-19 disease at eight medical centers in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut between March and May of this year. Half the children had respiratory disease with symptoms including cough, wheezing, sore throat, and difficulty breathing. The remaining 50% of patients were equally divided between children who experienced MIS-C and children who exhibited a range of symptoms, including gastrointestinal issues and fever. Of the three groups, children with MIS-C were most likely to require intensive care, but only children with respiratory illness passed away from COVID-19.

The eight participating hospitals in the tri-state area serve diverse patient populations, however the majority of hospitalized patients in this study were Hispanic or Black. In contrast to studies involving adults with COVID-19, the researchers found that race or ethnicity did not influence how children with COVID-19 fared following hospitalization. Additionally, the study showed: 

  • Children with obesity and those with low oxygen levels at the time of admission were more likely to have severe respiratory disease and require prolonged intensive care;
  • One in five children with severe respiratory disease required intubation and mechanical ventilation;
  • Children with lower lymphocytes, a subset of white blood cells, and those with higher levels of C-reactive protein, a test commonly used to evaluate inflammation, were more likely to have severe MIS-C;
  • Children with MIS-C were more likely to be non-Hispanic Black
  • Race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status was not associated with more severe disease

“We hope that pediatric providers will use these warning signs to predict which children may need enhanced monitoring and treatment that could prevent them from becoming severely ill or dying,” said Dr. Fernandes.

The paper is titled “SARS-CoV-2 Clinical Syndromes and Predictors of Disease Severity in Hospitalized Children and Youth.” Co-authors include members of The Tri-State Pediatric COVID-19 Research Consortium from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Yale School of Medicine, Kings County Hospital Center, Maimonides Children’s Hospital, Joseph M. Sanzari Children’s Hospital, K. Hovnanian Children’s Hospital, Neptune City, SUNY Downstate Medical Center University Hospital and Stony Brook University Renaissance Hospital.

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About Montefiore Health System 
Montefiore Health System is one of New York’s premier academic health systems and is a recognized leader in providing exceptional quality and personalized, accountable care to approximately three million people in communities across the Bronx, Westchester and the Hudson Valley. It is comprised of 10 hospitals, including the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital and more than 200 outpatient ambulatory care sites. The advanced clinical and translational research at its medical school, Albert Einstein College of Medicine, directly informs patient care and improves outcomes. From the Montefiore-Einstein Centers of Excellence in cancer, cardiology and vascular care, pediatrics, and transplantation, to its preeminent school-based health program, Montefiore is a fully integrated healthcare delivery system providing coordinated, comprehensive care to patients and their families. For more information please visit www.montefiore.org. Follow us on Twitter and view us on Facebook and YouTube.

About Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Albert Einstein College of Medicine is one of the nation’s premier centers for research, medical education and clinical investigation. During the 2019-20 academic year, Einstein is home to 724 M.D. students, 158 Ph.D. students, 106 students in the combined M.D./Ph.D. program, and 265 postdoctoral research fellows. The College of Medicine has more than 1,800 full-time faculty members located on the main campus and at its clinical affiliates. In 2019, Einstein received more than $178 million in awards from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). This includes the funding of major research centers at Einstein in aging, intellectual development disorders, diabetes, cancer, clinical and translational research, liver disease, and AIDS. Other areas where the College of Medicine is concentrating its efforts include developmental brain research, neuroscience, cardiac disease, and initiatives to reduce and eliminate ethnic and racial health disparities. Its partnership with Montefiore, the University Hospital and academic medical center for Einstein, advances clinical and translational research to accelerate the pace at which new discoveries become the treatments and therapies that benefit patients. Einstein runs one of the largest residency and fellowship training programs in the medical and dental professions in the United States through Montefiore and an affiliation network involving hospitals and medical centers in the Bronx, Brooklyn and on Long Island. For more information, please visit www.einstein.yu.edu, read our blog, follow us on Twitter, like us on Facebook, and view us on YouTube.