A recent study in Pediatrics found that children of lower socioeconomic status, Hispanic ethnicity, and Black race were at increased risk for multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), which has been associated with COVID-19. Published April 28, the retrospective case-control study included 43 patients diagnosed with MIS-C between January 1 and September 2, 2020, at three medical centers in Massachusetts. These patients were then compared to several control groups. The analysis found that lower socioeconomic status, or higher social vulnerability index, Hispanic ethnicity, and Black race independently increased risk for MIS-C.
“The study used multivariable logistic regression to clearly demonstrate the negative impact that lower socioeconomic status and increased social vulnerability have on significantly increasing the risk of Black and Hispanic children in contracting SARS-CoV-2 infection and independently demonstrates that Black and Hispanic patients are at increased risk for developing MIS-C,” said Tina Q. Tan, MD, a professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine who was not involved with the research. “The study’s findings shine a spotlight on the major, long-standing disparities that are present in Black and Hispanic communities and the critical role that they have on the health inequities that are being seen.”
“PIDS members, public health physicians, and pediatricians should use the COVID-19 pandemic and the disparities that have been recognized to proactively work to develop interventions to reduce the significant health inequities which place these children at increased risk for SARS-CoV-2 and other infections,” said Dr. Tan, who is also a pediatric ID attending physician and medical director of the International Patient Services Program at the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. “We all should strongly support advocacy efforts to combat the factors contributing to the health disparities being seen in order to improve health equity for all children.” Also commenting on the study, Tanya Rogo, MD, a pediatric ID physician and associate pediatric program director at BronxCare Health System in New York, noted that, “As a Black pediatrician who practices in one of the poorest congressional districts in the country that was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, I am intimately familiar with what is reported in this study. Race is a sociologic construct, but structural racism negatively impacts the health outcomes of Blacks and Hispanics, from maternal mortality to life expectancy. Health equity cannot be achieved without first addressing structural racism.”