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Risk Factors for Severe COVID-19 in Children.

BACKGROUND: There are limited pediatric data regarding severe COVID-19 disease. Our study aims to describe the epidemiology and identify risk factors for severe COVID-19 disease in children.

METHODS: This is a retrospective cohort study among children with positive SARS-CoV-2 PCR from March to July 2020 at Children's Hospital Colorado. Risk factors for severe disease were analyzed as defined by hospital admission, respiratory support, or critical care. Univariable and multivariable analyses were conducted.

RESULTS: Among 454 patients identified with SARS-CoV-2, 191 (42.1%) were females, median age 11 years. Fifty-five percent of all patients identified as Hispanic compared with 29% among all hospital visits in 2019 (P < 0.0001). In multivariable analyses, age 0-3 months or >20 years [adjusted odds ratio (aOR), 7.85; P < 0.0001 and aOR, 5.1; P = 0.03, respectively], preterm birth history (aOR, 3.7; P = 0.03), comorbidities [including immunocompromise (aOR, 3.5; P = 0.004), gastrointestinal condition (aOR, 2.7; P = 0.009), diabetes (aOR, 6.6; P = 0.04), asthma (aOR, 2.2; P = 0.04)], and specific symptoms at presentation were predictors for admission. Age 0-3 months or >20 years, asthma, gastrointestinal condition, and similar symptoms at presentation were also predictors for respiratory support. Elevated C-reactive protein was associated with the need for critical care with median of 17.7 mg/dL (IQR, 5.3-22.9) versus 1.95 mg/dL (IQR, 0.7-5.5) among patients requiring critical versus no critical care (OR, 1.2; P = 0.02).

CONCLUSIONS: Extremes of age, comorbid conditions, and elevated CRP are predictors of severe disease in children. Findings from this study can inform pediatric providers and public health officials to tailor clinical management, pandemic planning, and resource allocation.

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