Socioeconomic and Racial and/or Ethnic Disparities in Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome

Hispanic, Black and poor youngsters are more likely to be diagnosed with multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) than wealthier, white children, a small new study finds.

MIS-C is a rare, life-threatening condition seen in children three to four weeks after a COVID-19 infection. Symptoms include fever, severe illness with multisystem organ involvement and laboratory evidence of inflammation.

Children diagnosed with MIS-C from January 1, 2020 through September 1, 2020 in three Massachusetts pediatric hospitals were more likely to live in low-income neighborhoods with high social vulnerability and more likely to be Black or Hispanic compared with the general population of children in the state, the study published in Pediatrics found.

The retrospective case-control study also found that children living in poorer and less educated communities with more vulnerability regarding housing, transportation and language were at increased risk for both COVID-19 and MIS-C.

The study included 43 patients. Their median age was just under 10 years old, and 44% were Hispanic, 16% Black and 16% white. Nineteen, or 44%, had preexisting comorbidities, with 44% obese and 40% asthmatic.

"The increased risk of MIS-C appears to be related to an increased risk of COVID-19 infection in those groups," senior author Dr. Audrey Dionne told Reuters Health in an email.

A pediatric cardiologist at Boston Children's Hospital, Dionne and her team expected to find an association between race and ethnicity and risk of the syndrome. But they were surprised to find that socioeconomic status also was associated with the risk of MIS-C and that race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status were independently associated with risk.

Read the report in the American Academy of Pediatrics Journal

 Pediatrics, online April 28, 2021.