Black and Latino kids are four times more likely to develop an inflammatory condition in response to COVID-19 than white children, according to a new study.
According to scientists at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., who examined a small sample of children, black kids were at the highest risk of developing Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children, or MIS-C, at 46 percent, which occurred at a rate four times higher than white kids.
In addition, researchers analyzed other immune system components of kids in the study group. They discovered that the condition usually develops a few weeks after the child comes down with the coronavirus because of a hyperactive immune system.
Researchers went on to note that they aren’t sure why MIS-C develops more often in children of color, but the findings nevertheless add to the growing body of data on the rare but dangerous condition, which they say could become more pronounced in unvaccinated children as COVID-19 variants emerge, the Daily Mail reports.
While the condition affected 46 percent of black kids, it also manifested in 35 percent of Latino children. Just 11 percent of the kids affected by it were white, while 8 percent were “other” ethnicities.
The findings are sure to add to the discussion of how COVID-19 appears to be disproportionately affecting black Americans, who have died of COVID-19 at roughly twice the rate of whites, according to a study by APM Research Lab. Meanwhile, Native Americans are three times as likely to have died from the disease.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black children aged 0-17 comprise 35 percent of COVID-19 deaths in that age group, though according to the most recent statistics, they make up only about 14 percent of that group’s population.
Researchers speculate that one of the reasons why black children are being more affected by COVID-19 overall is because they are more prone to develop MIS-C, a rare condition that triggers the immune system and causes it to become hyperactive, leading to inflammation. Researchers say the condition typically develops four to six weeks after a child contracts the novel coronavirus.
Though kids who contract COVID-19 generally do not develop severe symptoms, kids who also contract MIS-C can become very ill.
As of early this month, some 4,000 MIS-C cases have been reported in the United States, and of them, 36 children have died.
The CDC says that the condition occurs more frequently in children living in the South, as well as West Coast states with higher black and Latino populations.
According to the researchers’ study, which was published Friday in the Journal of Pediatrics, 124 children with symptoms matching the condition were analyzed. Of those, 63 were found to have developed MIS-C, 39 of whom tested positive for the virus.
“Notably, none of the children with confirmed cases of MIS-C – verified by a positive COVID test – were white,” the Daily Mail noted, adding that just 35 percent of MIS-C patients also had underlying medical conditions including respiratory illnesses and diabetes, which made them susceptible to more severe viral symptoms.
Half of the 63 kids diagnosed with the rare condition needed critical care administered in an intensive care unit. More than half — 55 percent — of the most severely impacted children also suffered from heart problems.
“Data like this will be critical for the development of clinical trials around the long-term implications of MIS-C,” Dr. Roberta DeBiasi, who heads up the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Children’s National and who led the study, said.
“Our study sheds light on the demographic, clinical and biomarker features of this disease, as well as viral load and viral sequencing,” she added.
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