Paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome in Canada: population-based surveillance and role of SARS-CoV-2 linkage

Pediatr Res. 2023 Jun 5;1-10. doi: 10.1038/s41390-023-02668-1. Online ahead of print.


Background: Paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS) is a rare condition temporally associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection. Using national surveillance data, we compare presenting features and outcomes among children hospitalized with PIMS by SARS-CoV-2 linkage, and identify risk factors for intensive care (ICU).

Methods: Cases were reported to the Canadian Paediatric Surveillance Program by a network of >2800 pediatricians between March 2020 and May 2021. Patients with positive versus negative SARS-CoV-2 linkages were compared, with positive linkage defined as any positive molecular or serologic test or close contact with confirmed COVID-19. ICU risk factors were identified with multivariable modified Poisson regression.

Results: We identified 406 children hospitalized with PIMS, including 49.8% with positive SARS-CoV-2 linkages, 26.1% with negative linkages, and 24.1% with unknown linkages. The median age was 5.4 years (IQR 2.5-9.8), 60% were male, and 83% had no comorbidities. Compared to cases with negative linkages, children with positive linkages experienced more cardiac involvement (58.8% vs. 37.4%; p < 0.001), gastrointestinal symptoms (88.6% vs. 63.2%; p < 0.001), and shock (60.9% vs. 16.0%; p < 0.001). Children aged ≥6 years and those with positive linkages were more likely to require ICU.

Conclusions: Although rare, 30% of PIMS hospitalizations required ICU or respiratory/hemodynamic support, particularly those with positive SARS-CoV-2 linkages.

Impact: We describe 406 children hospitalized with paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome (PIMS) using nationwide surveillance data, the largest study of PIMS in Canada to date. Our surveillance case definition of PIMS did not require a history of SARS-CoV-2 exposure, and we therefore describe associations of SARS-CoV-2 linkages on clinical features and outcomes of children with PIMS. Children with positive SARS-CoV-2 linkages were older, had more gastrointestinal and cardiac involvement, and hyperinflammatory laboratory picture. Although PIMS is rare, one-third required admission to intensive care, with the greatest risk amongst those aged ≥6 years and those with a SARS-CoV-2 linkage.