Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) in Children - Nemours Blog


Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome (MIS-C) in Children

While some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19 and suffered complications from the virus, very few have been hospitalized, and adults still make up most of the known cases to date. However, there are still many unknowns about the virus and new information unfolds every day.

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (commonly known as MIS-C or PMIS) is a serious condition that has occurred in some children who have contracted COVID-19. This complication causes a significant inflammatory response in a child’s body that can cause a fever, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, rash, and signs of shock. MIS-C typically presents several weeks after a COVID-19 exposure or infection.

Know the Signs of COVID-19

The symptoms of COVID-19 are similar in children and adults. However, children with confirmed COVID-19 have generally shown mild symptoms such as fever, shortness of breath and cough. Abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea and headache have also been reported.

But because many children who develop COVID-19 never show any symptoms, it’s not known they even had it until MIS-C is diagnosed.

If your child shows the common symptoms of COVID-19, call your health care provider immediately.

Serious Complications of MISC-C

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C or PMIS) causes symptoms that are due to inflammation (fever, irritation, pain) throughout the body, and can potentially affect a child’s heart, lung, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes and gastrointestinal organs.

Public health professionals are working with state and local health departments to learn more about this syndrome, including how common it is and why certain children are at risk.

Not all children with MIS-C will have the same symptoms, but contact your pediatrician immediately if your child shows signs of:

• Prolonged fever (lasts several days)
• Belly, neck, and/or joint pain
• Vomiting and diarrhea
• Rash
• Red, cracked lips
• Red eyes
• Swelling in the hands or feet
• Problems seeing
• Headache
• Looking pale
• Shortness of breath or trouble breathing

These symptoms could quickly develop into an emergency. Call 911 if your child has trouble breathing, persistent pain or pressure in their chest, are confused, cannot stay awake, have blue lips or face and/or severe belly pain.

Learn more about how your family can prevent COVID-19 and how to live with the “new normal.”

Meg Frizzola, DO

Meg Frizzola, DO is the Interim Chair of Pediatrics & Division Chief, Critical Care Medicine at Nemours Children's Hospital in Wilmington, Del.