Post-COVID-19 Acute Disseminated Encephalomyelitis in a 17-Month-Old

Pediatrics. 2021 Jun;147(6):e2020049678. doi: 10.1542/peds.2020-049678. Epub 2021 Mar 24.


Neurologic manifestations of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection in pediatric patients have been reported in the acute and postinfectious stages of coronavirus disease 2019. Acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (ADEM) typically presents in children after a viral illness at a mean age of 3 to 7 years. A total of 60% to 90% of literature-reported pediatric patients with ADEM have minimal to no neurologic deficits at long-term follow-up. We present a 17-month-old developmentally typical girl with parental complaints of irritability, upper extremity weakness, and gait disturbance. She presented to the hospital afebrile and irritable with right-sided nasolabial fold flattening, neck stiffness, left upper extremity rigidity, right upper extremity paresis, bilateral lower extremity hyperreflexia, and truncal ataxia. During her hospital course, she became somnolent with autonomic instability and was transferred to intensive care. Contrasted brain MRI revealed diffuse patchy T2 hyperintensities without contrast enhancement. Nasopharyngeal SARS-CoV-2 polymerase chain reaction and serum antibody testing results were positive. Cerebral spinal fluid analysis was unremarkable. Respiratory viral panel and autoimmune encephalitis and demyelinating disorders panel results were negative. She was started on high-dose methylprednisolone and intravenous immunoglobulin, with improvement in mental status, focal deficits, and ambulation. After hospital discharge, she received inpatient rehabilitation for 2 weeks and at 2 month follow-up had a full neurologic recovery. We report the youngest case of postinfectious ADEM due to SARS-CoV-2 in a toddler. Early recognition of autoimmune and inflammatory complications of SARS-CoV-2 is vital for early aggressive immunomodulatory treatment and, consequently, improved morbidity in these patients.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 / complications*
  • COVID-19 / diagnosis*
  • Encephalomyelitis, Acute Disseminated / diagnosis*
  • Encephalomyelitis, Acute Disseminated / virology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant