One in three UK paediatricians report dealing with emergency 'delayed presentations' during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, reveal the results of a survey published in the Archives of Disease in Childhood. Children with diabetes were most often involved, but those with sepsis and cancer also presented late.
The findings come from a survey of 4075 senior paediatricians in the UK and Ireland, carried out by the British Paediatric Surveillance Unit in late April.
The doctors were asked whether, in the preceding 14 days, they had seen any children, who, in their opinion, turned up later for treatment/diagnosis than would have been expected before the COVID-19 pandemic (delayed presentation).
In all, 2433 replied. Thirty-two per cent of those working in emergency care and paediatric admissions said they had dealt with delayed presentations. Eight per cent reported dealing with more than three cases.
Nearly one in five (18%) senior paediatricians working on hospital wards and in outpatient clinics reported late presentations.
The numbers of delayed presentations ranged from 14 per cent of reports in Wales to 47 per cent of those in the Midlands.
Delayed presentation was thought to be a contributory factor in the deaths of nine children.
Commenting on the findings, Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “We know a lot more than we did three months ago about the impact of COVID-19 on children and young people. One of the few consistent points of good news is that children are unlikely to become unwell, even if exposed to the virus."
“Should we experience a second wave or regional outbreaks, it is vital that we get the message out to parents that we want to see unwell children at the earliest possible stage,” Professor Viner added.