COVID-19 in children with neuromuscular disorders

J Neurol. 2021 Sep;268(9):3081-3085. doi: 10.1007/s00415-020-10339-y. Epub 2021 Jan 2.


Objective: Children with neuromuscular disorders have been assumed to be a particularly vulnerable population since the beginning of COVID-19. Although this is a plausible hypothesis, there is no evidence that complications or mortality rates in neuromuscular patients are higher than in the general population. The aim of this study is to describe the clinical characteristics and outcome of COVID-19 in children with neuromuscular disorders.

Methods: A registry of children with neuromuscular conditions and laboratory-confirmed-SARS-CoV-2 infection was set up by the Neuromuscular Working Group of the Spanish Pediatric Neurology Society (SENEP). Data to be collected were focused on the characteristics and baseline status of the neuromuscular condition and the course of COVID-19.

Results: Severe complications were not observed in our series of 29 children with neuromuscular disorders infected by SARS-CoV-2. Eighty-nine percent of patients were clinically categorized as asymptomatic or mild cases and 10% as moderate cases. Patients with a relatively more severe course of COVID-19 had SMA type 1 and were between 1 and 3 years.

Conclusions: The course of COVID-19 in children with neuromuscular disorders may not be as severe as expected. The protective role of young age seems to outweigh the risk factors that are common in neuromuscular patients, such as a decreased respiratory capacity or a weak cough. Further studies are needed to know if this finding can be generalized to children with other chronic diseases.

Keywords: Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Myasthenia; Myopathy; Neuropathy; SARS-CoV-2; Spinal muscular atrophy.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Neuromuscular Diseases* / complications
  • Neuromuscular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • SARS-CoV-2