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Proportion of kids with COVID-19-related croup increased during omicron, Children’s Minnesota analysis shows

A new analysis conducted by researchers at Children’s Minnesota found the number of children diagnosed with COVID-19-related croup was significantly higher during the Omicron surge compared with other COVID-19 variants, such as Alpha or Delta. The findings expand on recent, single-center studies that found an association between COVID-19 and croup.

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Analysis of COVID-19-related croup and SARS-CoV-2 variant predominance in the U.S.” was published July 1 in JAMA Network open. It was authored by Dr. Kelly Bergmann, director of research for the department of emergency medicine at Children’s Minnesota. His co-authors include other Children’s Minnesota research and clinical staff: Brian Lefchak, MD, MPH; Amanda Nickel, MPH; Shea Lammers, MS; Dave Watson, PhD; Gabrielle Hester, MD, MS.

Croup is a common illness in babies and young children characterized by a bark-like cough and sometimes high-pitched breathing. It can be caused by a number of different respiratory viruses and causes swelling around the voice box and windpipe and bronchial tubes leading to the lungs.

Although there had been case reports of COVID-19-related croup, doctors at Boston Children’s Hospital were the first to note this association in a study published in March in the journal Pediatrics. After reviewing 75 cases of children who came into Boston Children’s emergency department with croup and COVID-19 since the pandemic began, the researchers determined that 80% of the cases happened during the Omicron surge. The authors suggested Omicron may be more likely to cause croup compared to previous variants.

The researchers at Children’s Minnesota used data from Pediatric Health Information System (PHIS) and identified 5,152 children between the ages of 3 months and 8 years old who were diagnosed with COVID-19 and croup between January 2021 and March 2022. The proportion of children with COVID-19-related croup was significantly higher during Omicron (10.9%) compared with Alpha (4.1%) and Delta (3.6%). However, the odds a child being admitted to the hospital for COVID-19 and croup during

The group says their finding suggest providers should have heightened awareness of SARS-CoV-2 variants and how they may present differently.