COVID-19 features in children and adolescents: a systematic review and pooled analysis

Eleni D. Panagouli, Athanasios Ch. Thirios, Theodora Psaltopoulou, Flora Bacopoulou, Theodore G. Troupis, George Chrousos, Maria N. Tsolia, Theodoros N. Sergentanis, Artemis K. Tsitsika


The purpose of the present study was to evaluate special features and probable correlations between symptoms, laboratory findings, treatment, and outcomes of COVID-19 in children and adolescents, through a systematic review and pooled analysis. Following database (Pubmed, Google Scholar, Scopus and Embase) search, forty articles were considered eligible identifying a total of 2,971 confirmed pediatric COVID-19 patients. Fever was reported in 55.1% of the cases, while 28.4% were asymptomatic.  Radiological signs of pneumonia were observed in more than half of the cases and in 40.7% of asymptomatic patients. Fever showed the highest sensitivity (sensitivity: 60.3%, specificity: 48.8%), followed by cough (sensitivity: 47.4%, specificity: 76.7%), rhinorrhea (sensitivity: 21.1%, specificity: 88.4%) and diarrhea (sensitivity: 10.3%, specificity: 88.4%), in differentiating cases with positive radiological signs for pneumonia. Compared to school age children, preschoolers (adjusted OR=6.01, 95%CI: 1.73-20.91) were more prone to pneumonia findings. Various combinations of treatments were used across studies, without following any strict guidelines. Most children (>90%) had full recovery and rarely presented complications. Fever seems to be the most frequent symptom in pediatric COVID-19, but pediatricians should additionally evaluate cough, rhinorrhea, and diarrhea as indicators of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Asymptomatic cases were common, but not the majority, and a significant percentage had developed radiologic findings of pneumonia. Thorough reassessment of treatment and management guidelines should be helpful.


COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; pandemic; children; adolescent; fever; pneumonia

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