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Hospitals are OVERCOUNTING children admitted for Covid, study suggests

Hospitals are OVERCOUNTING children admitted for Covid: Nearly half of kids recorded as needing inpatient treatment for virus were likely there for something else (and just happened to test positive), study suggests

  • Stanford University research analyzed data on 117 kids who had tested positive for COVID-19 as inpatients at its pediatric hospital 
  • Only about 55% of them had bad enough symptoms to need inpatient treatment
  • It suggests that pediatric hospitalizations for Covid are overcounted by about two-fold 
  • Children younger than 18 make up only 12.4 percent of U.S. COVID-19 cases, and less than a fraction of a percent of the total number of deaths from the virus 
  • It comes as parents weight whether to vaccinated children as young as 12, who are newly eligible to get Covid shots 

Hospitalizations of children for COVID-19 are likely be overcounted by as much as 45 percent, a new study suggests. 

Out of 117 children who tested positive were treated as inpatients in Stanford University’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, 53 were likely not sick enough from the virus itself to need inpatient treatment. 

Children younger than 18 make up only 12.4 percent of U.S. COVID-19 cases, and less than a fraction of a percent of the total number of deaths from the virus, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data show. 

An estimated one to three percent of Covid hospitalizations for Covid are among children – but the new Stanford study suggests the real figure may be even lower. 

It comes as parents weight whether to vaccinated children as young as 12, who are newly eligible to get Covid shots. 

While some are eager to protect their children against any possibility of infection with the virus, others are skeptical whether it’s worth it to give kids a brand new vaccine for a disease that rarely makes them very sick. 

Out of 117 children who tested positive were treated as inpatients in Stanford University’s Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, 53 were likely not sick enough from the virus itself to need inpatient treatment. About 45% had only mild or moderate symptoms and likely didn’t need to be hospitalized because of Covid, and just happened to be positive while getting other treatment

The new study, published Wednesday in the journal Hospital Pediatrics, took a closer look at data on 117 children who were either hospitalized for a Covid-linked syndrome – MIS-C, which occurs after kids are infected with coronavirus – or who tested positive after arriving at the hospital. 

The children were hospitalized between May 10, 2020 nd February 10, 2021. 

About 40 percent of those children were completely asymptomatic for COVID-19. 

Another 28 percent displayed only symptoms of mild-to-moderate coronavirus infections. 

Nine kids became severely ill from COVID-19, including three who probably were not hospitalized because of the infection, but became seriously sick with Covid during their stay, their medical charts suggest. 

Only 15 out of the 117 children were determined to be critically ill (about 13 percent). Fourteen of them were likely brought to hospitals specifically because of their COVID-19 symptoms. 

One child was admitted to the hospital to undergo surgery for a congenital heart problem. They had no symptoms when they arrived at the hospital, but later tested positive and fell critically ill, likely due to the combination of COVID-19 and their heart condition. 

Fourteen children were diagnosed with MIS-C – multi-system inflammatory syndrome in children – which has been linked to COVID-19. These children may not have gotten severely ill during the acute phase of infection with coronavirus, but it set off a chain of immune responses that brought on the potentially life-threatening inflammation. 

All-in-all, only a little over half of the kids who were logged as hospitalized for COVID-19 were actually sick enough from the virus itself to need inpatient treatment for it. 

The other 45 percent were likely hospitalized for something else and just happened to test positive for COVID-19. 

Kids (dark blue) account for a growing share of new Covid cases - 24% as of May 13 - but the 16,000-some hospitalizations may be an overcount, new research suggests

Kids (dark blue) account for a growing share of new Covid cases – 24% as of May 13 – but the 16,000-some hospitalizations may be an overcount, new research suggests 

According to the latest report from the American Academy of Pediatrics, just over 16,000 kids had been hospitalized for coronavirus as of May 13.  

Although it’s based on a small sample of of children, the Stanford study’s results suggest the real figure of kids who needed treatment for COVID-19 was closer to 9,000. 

‘Our goal is to make sure we have accurate data on how sick children are getting,’ study co-author and Stanford pediatrician Dr Alan Schroeder told USA Today. 

‘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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