What We Know So Far About Coronavirus Disease 2019 in Children: A Meta-Analysis of 551 Laboratory-Confirmed Cases

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2020 Jun 10;10.1002/ppul.24869. doi: 10.1002/ppul.24869. Online ahead of print.


Aim: To summarize what we know so far about coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in children.

Method: We searched PubMed, Scientific Electronic Library Online, and Latin American and Caribbean Center on Health Sciences Information from 1 January 2020 to 4 May 2020. We selected randomized trials, observational studies, case series or case reports, and research letters of children ages birth to 18 years with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19. We conducted random-effects meta-analyses to calculate the weighted mean prevalence and 95% confidence interval (CI) or the weighted average means and 95% CI.

Result: Forty-six articles reporting 551 cases of COVID-19 in children (aged 1 day-17.5 years) were included. Eighty-seven percent (95% CI: 77%-95%) of patients had household exposure to COVID-19. The most common symptoms and signs were fever (53%, 95% CI: 45%-61%), cough (39%, 95% CI: 30%-47%), and sore throat/pharyngeal erythema (14%, 95% CI: 4%-28%); however, 18% (95% CI: 11%-27%) of cases were asymptomatic. The most common radiographic and computed tomography (CT) findings were patchy consolidations (33%, 95% CI: 23%-43%) and ground glass opacities (28%, 95% CI: 18%-39%), but 36% (95% CI: 28%-45%) of patients had normal CT images. Antiviral agents were given to 74% of patients (95% CI: 52%-92%). Six patients, all with major underlying medical conditions, needed invasive mechanical ventilation, and one of them died.

Conclusion: Previously healthy children with COVID-19 have mild symptoms. The diagnosis is generally suspected from history of household exposure to COVID-19 case. Children with COVID-19 and major underlying condition are more likely to have severe/critical disease and poor prognosis, even death.

Keywords: COVID-19; CT; meta-analysis; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2; signs; symptoms.