Research Horizons


Predictors of Severe Outcomes in Children with COVID-19

Researchers from Canada and United States co-lead study of children to learn more about risk factors for severe outcomes

A new international study offers a clearer picture of the impact of COVID-19 infection and the risk of severe outcomes on young people around the world.

The study occurred within the Pediatric Emergency Research Network, a global consortium of the world’s major pediatric emergency care centers. It received support from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, Alberta Innovates, Alberta Health Services and the University of Calgary. It also received COVID grant funding from the University of California Davis, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago.

Dr. Anna Funk, PhD, an epidemiologist and postdoctoral fellow at UCalgary was lead author. Co-authors included Michelle Eckerle, MD, Division of Emergency Medicine at Cincinnati Children’s.

The study followed more than 10,300 children at 41 emergency departments in 10 countries including Canada and the United States, Italy, Spain and Australia. It included more than 3,200 children who visited hospital emergency departments and tested positive for COVID-19. The children include 735 who were hospitalized and 107 who experienced severe outcomes within two weeks of their visit to an emergency room.

Severe outcomes included cardiac or cardiovascular complications, such as myocarditis (inflammation of the heart), as well as neurologic, respiratory or infectious problems. Four children died.

The study also debunked some proposed risk factors: asthma was not confirmed as a risk factor for severe outcome, and very young infants were not at a higher risk for severe outcomes.

The study was published Jan. 11, 2022, in JAMA Network Open.

Read the full news release from the University of Calgary