NIH launches research into SARS-CoV-2’s impact on children

March 4, 2021

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has launched a new research effort to understand how SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, affects children, who account for roughly 13 percent of COVID-19 infections, according to a news release from NIH.

The effort is called the Collaboration to Assess Risk and Identify Long-term Outcomes for Children with COVID (CARING for Children with COVID). This research program is developing and funding studies to investigate why some children are at greater risk for SARS-CoV-2 infection than others, why symptoms vary among children who are infected, and how to identify children at risk for severe illness from SARS-CoV-2 infection. Research on the latter question is focused particularly on multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C), a life-threatening condition marked by severe inflammation of one or more parts of the body, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes and gastrointestinal organs.

The program is led by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) in collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Research conducted through CARING for Children with COVID is supported in part by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act.

Based on current data, most children with SARS-CoV-2 infection do not develop serious illness. However, those who do go on to develop MIS-C can experience prolonged fever and severe abdominal pain and may progress to shock. Although most children with MIS-C survive, its cause and long-term effects remain largely unknown. There is also early evidence that some children with asymptomatic or mild infection may go on to develop such long-term symptoms as fatigue, muscle and joint pain, and respiratory problems.

Specifically, the program developed new research protocols for three clinical networks with sites across the country to include children with SARS-CoV-2 infection and related conditions, including MIS-C.

Although the studies supported by CARING for Children with COVID have slightly different goals, all will collect data on a core set of health measures that can later be analyzed across studies. Data from CARING for Children with COVID activities will be made available on multiple NIH web platforms to allow researchers to conduct additional analyses and make more discoveries.

Visit NIH for more news