PEDIATRICS recent issues

A Complicated Case of Vaccine Refusal

Parents in the United States have a legal right to refuse vaccination for their children. There are, however, special circumstances under which the state may compel vaccination against parental wishes. In this Ethics Rounds article, we present the case of a young boy with sickle cell disease who was partially vaccinated against encapsulated bacteria and the ethics of whether to compel complete vaccination before splenectomy.

Accuracy of a Modified qSOFA Score for Predicting Critical Care Admission in Febrile Children

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

The identification of life-threatening infection in febrile children presenting to the emergency department (ED) remains difficult. The quick Sequential Organ Failure Assessment (qSOFA) was only derived for adult populations, implying an urgent need for pediatric scores. We developed and validated a novel, adapted qSOFA score (Liverpool quick Sequential Organ Failure Assessment [LqSOFA]) and compared its performance with qSOFA, Pediatric Early Warning Score (PEWS), and National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) high-risk criteria in predicting critical care (CC) admission in febrile children presenting to the ED.

METHODS:

The LqSOFA (range, 0–4) incorporates age-adjusted heart rate, respiratory rate, capillary refill, and consciousness level on the Alert, Voice, Pain, Unresponsive scale. The primary outcome was CC admission within 48 hours of ED presentation, and the secondary outcome was sepsis-related mortality. LqSOFA, qSOFA, PEWS, and NICE high-risk criteria scores were calculated, and performance characteristics, including area under the receiver operating characteristic curve, were calculated for each score.

RESULTS:

In the initial (n = 1121) cohort, 47 CC admissions (4.2%) occurred, and in the validation (n = 12 241) cohort, 135 CC admissions (1.1%) occurred, and there were 5 sepsis-related deaths. In the validation cohort, LqSOFA predicted CC admission with an area under the receiver operating characteristic curve of 0.81 (95% confidence interval [CI], 0.76 to 0.86), versus qSOFA (0.66; 95% CI, 0.60 to 0.71), PEWS (0.93; 95% CI, 0.90 to 0.95), and NICE high-risk criteria (0.81; 95% CI, 0.78 to 0.85). For predicting CC admission, the LqSOFA outperformed the qSOFA, with a net reclassification index of 10.4% (95% CI, 1.0% to 19.9%).

CONCLUSIONS:

In this large study, we demonstrate improved performance of the LqSOFA over qSOFA in identifying febrile children at risk for CC admission and sepsis-related mortality. Further validation is required in other settings.

State Insurance Mandates and the Workforce for Children With Autism

BACKGROUND:

State mandates have required insurance companies to provide coverage for autism-related child health care services; however, it has not been determined if insurance mandates have improved the supply of child health care providers. We investigate the effect of state insurance mandates on the supply of child psychiatrists, pediatricians, and board-certified behavioral analysts (BCBAs).

METHODS:

We used data from the National Conference of State Legislatures and Health Resources and Services Administration’s Area Health Resource Files to examine child psychiatrists, pediatricians, and BCBAs in all 50 states from 2003 to 2017. Fixed-effects regression models compared change in workforce density before versus one year after mandate implementation and the effect of mandate generosity across 44 US states implementing mandates between 2003 and 2017.

RESULTS:

From 2003 to 2017, child psychiatrists increased from 7.40 to 10.03 per 100 000 children, pediatricians from 62.35 to 68.86, and BCBAs from 1.34 to 29.88. Mandate introduction was associated with an additional increase of 0.77 BCBAs per 100 000 children (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.18 to 1.42) one year after mandate enactment. Mandate introduction was also associated with a more modest increase among child psychiatrists (95% CI: 0.10 to 0.91) and was not associated with the prevalence of pediatricians (95% CI: –0.76 to 1.13). We also found evidence that more generous mandate benefits were associated with larger effects on workforce supply.

CONCLUSIONS:

State insurance mandates were associated with an ~16% increase in BCBAs from 2003 to 2017, but the association with child psychiatrists was smaller and nonsignificant among pediatricians. In these findings, it is suggested that policies are needed that specifically address workforce constraints in the provision of services for children with autism spectrum disorder.

Pediatric Mental Health Boarding

CONTEXT:

The growing prevalence of pediatric mental and behavioral health disorders, coupled with scarce psychiatric resources, has resulted in a substantial increase in the number of youth waiting in emergency departments (EDs) and medical units for inpatient psychiatric care.

OBJECTIVE:

To characterize the prevalence of pediatric mental health boarding and identify associated patient and hospital factors.

DATA SOURCES:

Medline and PsycINFO.

STUDY SELECTION:

All studies describing frequencies, durations, processes, outcomes, and/or risk factors associated with pediatric mental health boarding in youth ≤21 years of age.

DATA EXTRACTION:

Publications meeting inclusion criteria were charted by 2 authors and critically appraised for quality.

RESULTS:

Eleven studies met inclusion criteria; 10 were retrospective cohort studies and 9 were conducted at single centers. All of the single-center studies were conducted at children’s hospitals or pediatric EDs in urban or suburban settings. Study sample sizes ranged from 27 to 44 328. Among youth requiring inpatient psychiatric care, 23% to 58% experienced boarding and 26% to 49% boarded on inpatient medical units. Average boarding durations ranged from 5 to 41 hours in EDs and 2 to 3 days in inpatient units. Risk factors included younger age, suicidal or homicidal ideation, and presentation to a hospital during nonsummer months. Care processes and outcomes were infrequently described. When reported, provision of psychosocial services varied widely.

LIMITATIONS:

Boarding definitions were heterogeneous, study sample sizes were small, and rural regions and general hospitals were underrepresented.

CONCLUSIONS:

Pediatric mental health boarding is prevalent and understudied. Additional research representing diverse hospital types and geographic regions is needed to inform clinical interventions and health care policy.

Socioeconomic Status and Long-term Outcomes in Single Ventricle Heart Disease

BACKGROUND:

Low socioeconomic status (SES) has emerged as an important risk factor for higher short-term mortality and neurodevelopmental outcomes in children with hypoplastic left heart syndrome and related anomalies; yet little is known about how SES affects these outcomes over the long-term.

METHODS:

We linked data from the Single Ventricle Reconstruction trial to US Census Bureau data to analyze the relationship of neighborhood SES tertiles with mortality and transplantation, neurodevelopment, quality of life, and functional status at 5 and 6 years post–Norwood procedure (N = 525). Cox proportional hazards regression and linear regression were used to assess the association of SES with mortality and neurodevelopmental outcomes, respectively.

RESULTS:

Patients in the lowest SES tertile were more likely to be racial minorities, older at stage 2 and Fontan procedures, and to have more complications and fewer cardiac catheterizations over follow-up (all P < .05) compared with patients in higher SES tertiles. Unadjusted mortality was highest for patients in the lowest SES tertile and lowest in the highest tertile (41% vs 29%, respectively; log-rank P = .027). Adjustment for patient birth and Norwood factors attenuated these differences slightly (P = .055). Patients in the lowest SES tertile reported lower functional status and lower fine motor, problem-solving, adaptive behavior, and communication skills at 6 years (all P < .05). These differences persisted after adjustment for baseline and post-Norwood factors. Quality of life did not differ by SES.

CONCLUSIONS:

Among patients with hypoplastic left heart syndrome, those with low SES have worse neurodevelopmental and functional status outcomes at 6 years. These differences were not explained by other patient or clinical characteristics.

Early Experience of COVID-19 in a US Children's Hospital

OBJECTIVES:

We aim to describe the demographics, clinical presentation, hospital course, and severity of pediatric inpatients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), with an emphasis on healthy, immunocompromised, and chronically ill children.

METHODS:

We conducted a single-center retrospective cohort study of hospitalized children aged younger than 22 years with COVID-19 infection at Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center at Northwell Health. Cases were identified from patients with fever and/or respiratory symptoms who underwent a nucleic acid amplification–based test for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2.

RESULTS:

Sixty-five patients were identified. The median age was 10.3 years (interquartile range, 1.4 months to 16.3 years), with 48% of patients older than 12 years and 29% of patients younger than 60 days of age. Fever was present in 86% of patients, lower respiratory symptoms or signs in 60%, and gastrointestinal symptoms in 62%. Thirty-five percent of patients required ICU care. The white blood cell count was elevated in severe disease (P = .0027), as was the C-reactive protein level (P = .0192), compared with mild and moderate disease. Respiratory support was required in 34% of patients. Severity was lowest in infants younger than 60 days of age and highest in chronically ill children; 79% of immunocompromised children had mild disease. One death was reported.

CONCLUSIONS:

Among children who are hospitalized for COVID-19, most are younger than 60 days or older than 12 years of age. Children may have severe infection requiring intensive care support. The clinical course of immunocompromised patients was not more severe than that of other children. Elevated white blood cell count and C-reactive protein level are associated with greater illness severity.

Outcomes of Maternal-Newborn Dyads After Maternal SARS-CoV-2

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

Infection with a novel coronavirus named severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has become a global pandemic. There are limited data describing the impact of SARS-CoV-2 infection on pregnant mothers and their newborns. The objective of this study is to describe characteristics and outcomes of maternal-newborn dyads with confirmed maternal SARS-CoV-2.

METHODS:

This was a multicenter, observational, descriptive cohort study with data collection from charts of maternal-newborn dyads who delivered at 4 major New York City metropolitan area hospitals between March 1 and May 10, 2020, with maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection.

RESULTS:

There were a total of 149 mothers with SARS-CoV-2 infection and 149 newborns analyzed (3 sets of twins; 3 stillbirths). Forty percent of these mothers were asymptomatic. Approximately 15% of symptomatic mothers required some form of respiratory support, and 8% required intubation. Eighteen newborns (12%) were admitted to the ICU. Fifteen (10%) were born preterm, and 5 (3%) required mechanical ventilation. Symptomatic mothers had more premature deliveries (16% vs 3%, P = .02), and their newborns were more likely to require intensive care (19% vs 2%, P = .001) than asymptomatic mothers. One newborn tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, which was considered a case of horizontal postnatal transmission.

CONCLUSIONS:

Although there was no distinct evidence of vertical transmission from mothers with SARS-CoV-2 to their newborns, we did observe perinatal morbidities among both mothers and newborns. Symptomatic mothers were more likely to experience premature delivery and their newborns to require intensive care.

COVID-19 and Parent-Child Psychological Well-being

BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES:

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 has changed American society in ways that are difficult to capture in a timely manner. With this study, we take advantage of daily survey data collected before and after the crisis started to investigate the hypothesis that the crisis has worsened parents’ and children’s psychological well-being. We also examine the extent of crisis-related hardships and evaluate the hypothesis that the accumulation of hardships will be associated with parent and child psychological well-being.

METHODS:

Daily survey data were collected between February 20 and April 27, 2020, from hourly service workers with a young child (aged 2–7) in a large US city (N = 8222 person-days from 645 individuals). A subsample completed a one-time survey about the effects of the crisis fielded between March 23 and April 26 (subsample n = 561).

RESULTS:

Ordered probit models revealed that the frequency of parent-reported daily negative mood increased significantly since the start of the crisis. Many families have experienced hardships during the crisis, including job loss, income loss, caregiving burden, and illness. Both parents’ and children’s well-being in the postcrisis period was strongly associated with the number of crisis-related hardships that the family experienced.

CONCLUSIONS:

Consistent with our hypotheses, in families that have experienced multiple hardships related to the coronavirus disease 2019 crisis, both parents’ and children’s mental health is worse. As the crisis continues to unfold, pediatricians should screen for mental health, with particular attention to children whose families are especially vulnerable to economic and disease aspects of the crisis.

COVID-19 Disease Severity Risk Factors for Pediatric Patients in Italy

OBJECTIVES:

To describe the epidemiological and clinical characteristics of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pediatric patients aged <18 years in Italy.

METHODS:

Data from the national case-based surveillance system of confirmed COVID-19 infections until May 8, 2020, were analyzed. Demographic and clinical characteristics of subjects were summarized by age groups (0–1, 2–6, 7–12, 13–18 years), and risk factors for disease severity were evaluated by using a multilevel (clustered by region) multivariable logistic regression model. Furthermore, a comparison among children, adults, and elderly was performed.

RESULTS:

Pediatric patients (3836) accounted for 1.8% of total infections (216 305); the median age was 11 years, 51.4% were male, 13.3% were hospitalized, and 5.4% presented underlying medical conditions. The disease was mild in 32.4% of cases and severe in 4.3%, particularly in children ≤6 years old (10.8%); among 511 hospitalized patients, 3.5% were admitted in ICU, and 4 deaths occurred. Lower risk of disease severity was associated with increasing age and calendar time, whereas a higher risk was associated with preexisting underlying medical conditions (odds ratio = 2.80, 95% confidence interval = 1.74–4.48). Hospitalization rate, admission in ICU, disease severity, and days from symptoms onset to recovery significantly increased with age among children, adults and elderly.

CONCLUSIONS:

Data suggest that pediatric cases of COVID-19 are less severe than adults; however, age ≤1 year and the presence of underlying conditions represent severity risk factors. A better understanding of the infection in children may give important insights into disease pathogenesis, health care practices, and public health policies.

Racial and/or Ethnic and Socioeconomic Disparities of SARS-CoV-2 Infection Among Children

OBJECTIVES:

To evaluate racial and/or ethnic and socioeconomic differences in rates of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection among children.

METHODS:

We performed a cross-sectional study of children tested for SARS-CoV-2 at an exclusively pediatric drive-through and walk-up SARS-CoV-2 testing site from March 21, 2020, to April 28, 2020. We performed bivariable and multivariable logistic regression to measure the association of patient race and/or ethnicity and estimated median family income (based on census block group estimates) with (1) SARS-CoV-2 infection and (2) reported exposure to SARS-CoV-2.

RESULTS:

Of 1000 children tested for SARS-CoV-2 infection, 20.7% tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. In comparison with non-Hispanic white children (7.3%), minority children had higher rates of infection (non-Hispanic Black: 30.0%, adjusted odds ratio [aOR] 2.3 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2–4.4]; Hispanic: 46.4%, aOR 6.3 [95% CI 3.3–11.9]). In comparison with children in the highest median family income quartile (8.7%), infection rates were higher among children in quartile 3 (23.7%; aOR 2.6 [95% CI 1.4–4.9]), quartile 2 (27.1%; aOR 2.3 [95% CI 1.2–4.3]), and quartile 1 (37.7%; aOR 2.4 [95% CI 1.3–4.6]). Rates of reported exposure to SARS-CoV-2 also differed by race and/or ethnicity and socioeconomic status.

CONCLUSIONS:

In this large cohort of children tested for SARS-CoV-2 through a community-based testing site, racial and/or ethnic minorities and socioeconomically disadvantaged children carry the highest burden of infection. Understanding and addressing the causes of these differences are needed to mitigate disparities and limit the spread of infection.

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