New research into PIMS-TS highlights the need to tackle health inequalities

Posted on Friday 19th March 2021
The outside of Evelina London

Evelina London has played an important role over the last year in caring for a small number of children and young people with paediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, PIMS-TS, which can be detected early and treated successfully. 

As the condition, which is thought to be related to COVID-19, is new, there is work happening across the world to learn all we can about it. We have been working with other hospitals in London since it was identified to understand more about the condition, improve treatments, and take part in pioneering research to understand any longer-term impacts.

In a new study, experts at Evelina London and King’s College London have found that children at increased risk from PIMS-TS are those from black, Asian and other ethnic groups, those that live in deprived socio-economic areas, and those families with a key worker.

Dr Jonathan Broad, a registrar at Evelina London who was involved in the study, said: “It is important that families know that PIMS-TS is rare and the children and young people we’ve seen with PIMS-TS have responded very well to hospital treatment. Although the condition is rare our research, which is the first of its kind, has found that ethnicity was a key factor in children with longer hospital stays and was associated with a need for intensive care ventilation.

“This study is really important as it is the first to assess the direct health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on children and young people who are diagnosed with PIMS-TS. It highlights the urgency needed in tackling health inequalities which start from a young age.”

Whilst children and young people tend to only get mild symptoms with COVID-19, the very small number of children who get PIMS-TS usually require hospital treatment as it is a serious condition. We need families to be aware of the symptoms of the condition so they know what to look out for and when to contact a health professional if they are worried about their child.

Advice for parents and carers

As PIMS-TS is a delayed reaction to the body trying to overcome the virus, the symptoms are different to COVID-19, and many children who experience PIMS-TS may not have previously been unwell or had COVID-19 symptoms.

Symptoms of PIMS-TS can include:

  • a prolonged fever (higher than 38C)
  • tummy ache
  • diarrhoea and/or vomiting
  • widespread red rash
  • red bloodshot eyes, strawberry red tongue, or red cracked lips
  • swelling of fingers and toes
  • not feeling or acting like themselves. 

If your child has any of the symptoms, you should call your GP or NHS 111 for advice. If your child develops chest pain, or severe breathing difficulties call 999 immediately.

The research was published in the Archives of Childhood Diseases, and analysed the associations of ethnicity and socioeconomic deprivation with risk and severity for children in the south-east of England admitted to Evelina London with PIMS-TS between February and June 2020.