Neurocognitive, Psychosocial, and Quality of Life Outcomes After Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children Admitted to the PICU

Marieke H. Otten, Corinne M. P. Buysse, Emmeline P. Buddingh, Suzanne W. J. Terheggen-Lagro, Erik G. J. von Asmuth, Eleonore S. V. de Sonnaville, Naomi Ketharanathan, Heleen E. Bunker-Wiersma, Lotte Haverman, Karin Hogenbirk, Matthijs de Hoog, Martien Humblet, Koen F. M. Joosten, Martin C. J. Kneyber, Geanne Krabben, Joris Lemson, Nienke M. Maas, Sofie Maebe, Peter P. Roeleveld, Monique van SchooneveldBrigitte Timmers-Raaijmaakers, Dick van Waardenburg, Jennifer C. Walker, Renske Wassenberg, Job B. M. van Woensel, Esther de Wit, Diana W. Wolthuis, Annelies van Zwol, Kim J. Oostrom, Hennie Knoester, Karolijn Dulfer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVES: To investigate neurocognitive, psychosocial, and quality of life (QoL) outcomes in children with Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children (MIS-C) seen 3-6 months after PICU admission. DESIGN: National prospective cohort study March 2020 to November 2021. SETTING: Seven PICUs in the Netherlands. PATIENTS: Children with MIS-C (0-17 yr) admitted to a PICU. INTERVENTIONS: None. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: Children and/or parents were seen median (interquartile range [IQR] 4 mo [3-5 mo]) after PICU admission. Testing included assessment of neurocognitive, psychosocial, and QoL outcomes with reference to Dutch pre-COVID-19 general population norms. Effect sizes (Hedges' g) were used to indicate the strengths and clinical relevance of differences: 0.2 small, 0.5 medium, and 0.8 and above large. Of 69 children with MIS-C, 49 (median age 11.6 yr [IQR 9.3-15.6 yr]) attended follow-up. General intelligence and verbal memory scores were normal compared with population norms. Twenty-nine of the 49 followed-up (59%) underwent extensive testing with worse function in domains such as visual memory, g = 1.0 (95% CI, 0.6-1.4), sustained attention, g = 2.0 (95% CI 1.4-2.4), and planning, g = 0.5 (95% CI, 0.1-0.9). The children also had more emotional and behavioral problems, g = 0.4 (95% CI 0.1-0.7), and had lower QoL scores in domains such as physical functioning g = 1.3 (95% CI 0.9-1.6), school functioning g = 1.1 (95% CI 0.7-1.4), and increased fatigue g = 0.5 (95% CI 0.1-0.9) compared with population norms. Elevated risk for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) was seen in 10 of 30 children (33%) with MIS-C. Last, in the 32 parents, no elevated risk for PTSD was found. CONCLUSIONS: Children with MIS-C requiring PICU admission had normal overall intelligence 4 months after PICU discharge. Nevertheless, these children reported more emotional and behavioral problems, more PTSD, and worse QoL compared with general population norms. In a subset undergoing more extensive testing, we also identified irregularities in neurocognitive functions. Whether these impairments are caused by the viral or inflammatory response, the PICU admission, or COVID-19 restrictions remains to be investigated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)289-300
Number of pages12
JournalPediatric critical care medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2023

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