Introduction: Coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), was initially identified in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. The virus affects almost all countries of the world. It has infected humans in all age groups, of all ethnicities, both males and females. It is considered that COVID-19, in those with underlying health conditions or co-morbidities, has an increasingly rapid and severe progression, often leading to death. This study is designed to evaluate the impact of co-morbidities on the severity and outcome of COVID-19 infection in children.
Methods: This retrospective observational study was conducted at the pediatric department, Benazir Bhutto Hospital Rawalpindi from March 2020 to September 2021. Every confirmed COVID-19 admitted case according to inclusion criteria was enrolled for the study. Data were retrieved from hospital records; data was recorded on a predesigned study questionnaire, entered and analyzed in SPSS version 24 for descriptive statistics and bivariate analysis.
Results: 109 children were enrolled with confirmed COVID-19, of these 64(58.7%) were males and 45(41.2%) were females. The age of the patients ranged from infants to 12 years with a mean age of 27.25 months. Comorbidities were present in 70 patients (64.2%).CHD was the most common co-morbid condition (n=18, 16.5%). Most of the patients experienced mild to moderate symptoms (n=64.2%) while severe symptoms were found in (n=35.8%) patients. 27 patients (24.8%) required Ventilatory support, and of these 20 patients (18.3%) had underlying co-morbidity. The total number of patients who expired was 27(24.7%), and 30.3% of patients who expired had co-morbid conditions. the patients with co-morbid conditions had a longer stay in the hospital. 35 patients (32.1%)with underlying co-morbidity remained admitted for more than a week and 13 patients(9%)for more than two weeks.
Conclusion: Pediatric patients with co-morbidities have a higher risk of severe COVID-19 and associated mortality than children without underlying disease. Children with underlying conditions need to be carefully assessed and closely monitored. Further data are required to define these associations and adequate guidelines to manage high-risk children with COVID-19.
Keywords: Coronavirus, COVID-19, Pediatrics, Co-morbidity, Severity, Outcome
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