Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the frequency of the pediatric rheumatic diseases.

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Kaya Akca U., Atalay E., Cuceoglu M., Balik Z., Sener S., Ozsurekci Y., ...More

Rheumatology international, vol.42, no.1, pp.51-57, 2022 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 42 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s00296-021-05027-7
  • Journal Name: Rheumatology international
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, EMBASE, MEDLINE, Veterinary Science Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.51-57
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and implemented restrictions on the frequency of pediatric rheumatic diseases remain unknown, while they have probably prevented common infections in children. We present the effects of the COVID-19 on our pediatric rheumatology practice in a main referral center. We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of patients presenting to pediatric rheumatology department in 4 years before March 2020 and compared it to the pandemic year (March 2020-March 2021). Since there was an overall decrease in patient numbers, we calculated the percentage according to the total number of that year. A total of 32,333 patients were evaluated. The mean annual number of patients decreased by 42% during the COVID-19 pandemic. When follow-up visits (25,156) were excluded, there were 2818 new diagnoses of rheumatic diseases. In the pre-pandemic period, familial Mediterranean fever (FMF) (n = 695, 28.1%) was the most frequent, whereas in the pandemic period multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) (n = 68, 19.2%) was the most common diagnosis. There were no significant differences in the percentages of juvenile idiopathic arthritis, autoimmune diseases, rare autoinflammatory diseases, and other vasculitides. However, there was a significant decrease in patients diagnosed with FMF, IgA vasculitis (IgAV), acute rheumatic fever (ARF), classic Kawasaki disease (KD), and macrophage activation syndrome (MAS) (all p < 0.05). During the pandemic year, the percentage of most common diseases did not differ. On the other hand, we suggest that the decreases in IgAV, KD (classic), and MAS, which parallels the decrease in ARF, confirm the role of infections in the pathogenesis for these diseases.