Lehigh Valley, Pa.,
18:23 PM

What Parents Should Know About Pediatric Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome

Pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, sometimes called PMIS, is an illness that causes significant inflammation in organ systems, skin rashes and other symptoms. The syndrome has been in the news because it appears to be connected to the coronavirus (COVID-19) and has affected children in numerous states.

Pediatric specialists at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital, the community’s only children’s hospital, are prepared to care for children with the illness. J. Nathan Hagstrom, MD, Chair, Department of Pediatrics, says pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome is both rare and treatable. Standard treatment for the condition is steroid medication given to patients in conjunction with a commonly used IV medication (IVIG) used to treat inflammation in patients with an autoimmune disease. The majority of patients recover with no long-lasting effects, and the percentage of children who die from the syndrome is very low.

Several children have been treated in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and the pediatric inpatient unit at the Children’s Hospital. Less than 1 percent of children tested positive for COVID-19 among the nearly 26,000 tests ordered for Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) patients to date.

A team of 10 pediatric specialists at Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital is meeting daily to discuss care plans for the patients hospitalized with the syndrome, as well as to review the latest disease trends and treatments. The team includes Hagstrom, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist, two pediatric intensivists, two pediatric hospitalists, two pediatric cardiologists and two pediatric emergency medicine physicians.

Symptoms of pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome are:

  • Persistent fever

  • Abdominal pain, diarrhea or vomiting

  • Skin rash or changes in skin color

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Confusion

  • Both eyes appearing red

While the syndrome is often compared to Kawasaki disease, it is thought to be a separate condition. There is much more to learn about the syndrome’s relationship to COVID-19. However, what is certain is that social distancing, hand washing and wearing a mask help protect children from COVID-19, and likely will also protect them from pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome.

If your child has a fever, do not be overly alarmed. Remember, numerous illnesses can cause children to experience fever. Contact your child’s pediatrician or family medicine provider to discuss your child’s symptoms. Your provider will decide the best next steps and treatment for your child.