Epidemiology of 7375 children and adolescents hospitalized with COVID‑19 in Germany, reported via a prospective, nationwide surveillance study in 2020–2022

Scientific Reports – DOI:10.1038/s41598-023-49210-1

By means of a nationwide, prospective, multicenter, observational cohort registry collecting data on 7375 patients with laboratory‑confirmed SARS‑CoV‑2 admitted to children’s hospitals in Germany, March 2020–November 2022, our study assessed the clinical features of children and adolescents hospitalized due to SARS‑CoV‑2, evaluated which of these patients might be at highest risk for severe COVID‑19, and identified underlying risk factors. Outcomes tracked included: symptomatic infection, case fatality, sequelae at discharge and severe disease. Among reported cases, median age was one year, with 42% being infants. Half were admitted for reasons other than SARS‑CoV‑2. In 27%, preexisting comorbidities were present, most frequently obesity, neurological/neuromuscular disorders, premature birth, and respiratory, cardiovascular or gastrointestinal diseases. 3.0% of cases were admitted to ICU, but ICU admission rates varied as different SARS‑CoV‑2 variants gained prevalence. Main risk factors linked to ICU admission due to COVID‑19 were: patient age (> 12 and 1–4 years old), obesity, neurological/neuromuscular diseases, Trisomy 21 or other genetic syndromes, and coinfections at time of hospitalization. With Omicron, the group at highest risk shifted to 1–4‑year‑olds. For both health care providers and the general public, understanding risk factors for severe disease is critical to informing decisions about risk‑reduction measures, including vaccination and masking guidelines.

* This journal article provides analysis of data gleaned from the DGPI registries.