Neurological manifestations of SARS-CoV-2 infection in hospitalised children and adolescents in the UK: a prospective national cohort study. Lancet Child Adolesc Heal [Internet]. 2021;4642(21):1–11.


HPRU-EZI Authors - Tom Solomon.


BACKGROUND The spectrum of neurological and psychiatric complications associated with paediatric SARS-CoV-2 infection is poorly understood. We aimed to analyse the range and prevalence of these complications in hospitalised children and adolescents. METHODS We did a prospective national cohort study in the UK using an online network of secure rapid-response notification portals established by the CoroNerve study group. Paediatric neurologists were invited to notify any children and adolescents (age <18 years) admitted to hospital with neurological or psychiatric disorders in whom they considered SARS-CoV-2 infection to be relevant to the presentation. Patients were excluded if they did not have a neurological consultation or neurological investigations or both, or did not meet the definition for confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection (a positive PCR of respiratory or spinal fluid samples, serology for anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG, or both), or the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health criteria for paediatric inflammatory multisystem syndrome temporally associated with SARS-CoV-2 (PIMS-TS). Individuals were classified as having either a primary neurological disorder associated with COVID-19 (COVID-19 neurology group) or PIMS-TS with neurological features (PIMS-TS neurology group). The denominator of all hospitalised children and adolescents with COVID-19 was collated from National Health Service England data. FINDINGS Between April 2, 2020, and Feb 1, 2021, 52 cases were identified; in England, there were 51 cases among 1334 children and adolescents hospitalised with COVID-19, giving an estimated prevalence of 3·8 (95% CI 2·9-5·0) cases per 100 paediatric patients. 22 (42%) patients were female and 30 (58%) were male; the median age was 9 years (range 1-17). 36 (69%) patients were Black or Asian, 16 (31%) were White. 27 (52%) of 52 patients were classified into the COVID-19 neurology group and 25 (48%) were classified into the PIMS-TS neurology group. In the COVID-19 neurology group, diagnoses included status epilepticus (n=7), encephalitis (n=5), Guillain-Barré syndrome (n=5), acute demyelinating syndrome (n=3), chorea (n=2), psychosis (n=2), isolated encephalopathy (n=2), and transient ischaemic attack (n=1). The PIMS-TS neurology group more often had multiple features, which included encephalopathy (n=22 [88%]), peripheral nervous system involvement (n=10 [40%]), behavioural change (n=9 [36%]), and hallucinations at presentation (n=6 [24%]). Recognised neuroimmune disorders were more common in the COVID-19 neurology group than in the PIMS-TS neurology group (13 [48%] of 27 patients vs 1 [<1%] of 25 patients, p=0·0003). Compared with the COVID-19 neurology group, more patients in the PIMS-TS neurology group were admitted to intensive care (20 [80%] of 25 patients vs six [22%] of 27 patients, p=0·0001) and received immunomodulatory treatment (22 [88%] patients vs 12 [44%] patients, p=0·045). 17 (33%) patients (10 [37%] in the COVID-19 neurology group and 7 [28%] in the PIMS-TS neurology group) were discharged with disability; one (2%) died (who had stroke, in the PIMS-TS neurology group). INTERPRETATION This study identified key differences between those with a primary neurological disorder versus those with PIMS-TS. Compared with patients with a primary neurological disorder, more patients with PIMS-TS needed intensive care, but outcomes were similar overall. Further studies should investigate underlying mechanisms for neurological involvement in COVID-19 and the longer-term outcomes. FUNDING UK Research and Innovation, Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, National Institute for Health Research.


The Lancet. Child & adolescent health



Research Themes:

1. Patient Research for Public Health