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.

About LVHN

Lehigh Valley Health Network includes eight hospital campuses, three in Allentown, one in Bethlehem, one in East Stroudsburg, one in Hazleton and two in Pottsville, Pa.; Coordinated Health, which includes two hospital campuses, nearly two dozen multispecialty locations including ambulatory surgery centers and orthopedic injury centers in northeastern Pennsylvania and western New Jersey; 26 health centers; numerous primary and specialty care physician practices; 22 ExpressCARE including the area’s only Children’s ExpressCARE; pharmacy, imaging, home health, rehabilitation, and lab services; and preferred provider services through Valley Preferred. Specialty care includes trauma care for adults and children, burn care at the Regional Burn Center, kidney and pancreas transplants; perinatal/neonatal, cardiac, cancer, orthopedics, neurology, complex neurosurgery capabilities including national certification as a Comprehensive Stroke Center, and robotic surgery in 10 specialties. Lehigh Valley Cancer InstituteLehigh Valley Heart Institute, and Lehigh Valley Institute for Surgical Excellence physicians provide the most advanced treatments. The Lehigh Valley Cancer Institute is a member of the Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) Cancer Alliance, an initiative that helps community providers improve the quality of cancer care and offers access to MSK clinical trials. Lehigh Valley Reilly Children’s Hospital, the community’s only children’s hospital, provides care in more than 30 specialties and general pediatrics. Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest is the region’s only hospital nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report for orthopedics and has been recognized among Pennsylvania’s top five hospitals for six consecutive years. Lehigh Valley Hospital–Cedar Crest, Lehigh Valley Hospital–17th Street and Lehigh Valley Hospital–Muhlenberg are the region’s only Magnet® hospitals for nursing excellence. Additional information is available by visiting LVHN.org, or following us on FacebookTwitterLinkedIn, and Instagram.