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2-month-old baby becomes Michigan's youngest COVID-19 victim

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A 2-month-old from Michigan died this week of COVID-19 and is believed to be the state's youngest victim of the virus.

"Children are not spared from this disease," said Dr. Joneigh Khaldun, chief medical executive and chief deputy for health at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, at a news conference Wednesday. "My condolences go out to their parents and family."

Additional details, such as the baby's gender, hometown, whether the infant was treated at a hospital or had other health conditions that may have contributed to the death, were not disclosed.

"This baby is the youngest person that we know of to pass away due to COVID-19," said Bob Wheaton, a spokesman for the MDHHS. "It is a sad reminder that children are not immune from COVID-19."

"Our thoughts are with the family, which has experienced a terrible loss. To protect the privacy of the family, we cannot provide additional details."

Another child, 5-year-old Skylar Hebert of Detroit, died in April of complications from COVID-19.

"Michigan is fortunate to have had only one death of a child under age 1," Wheaton said. However, he could not say how many children overall have died of COVID-19 in Michigan.

Since March, 113,863 Michiganders have had confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 6,623 have died, according to the MDHHS.

Of them, 2,228 cases have been among children ages 0-9 and 9,689 have been among children ages 10-19, the agency reported.

While children aren't as likely as older people to get severely ill or die from COVID-19, Khaldun said children are at risk for developing a rare complication linked to COVID-19.

Known as Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, or MIS-C, it can cause symptoms that sometimes mimic Kawasaki disease and can cause organ failure.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said children with this condition can have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Bloodshot eyes, cracked lips or bright red tongue
  • Rash
  • Abdominal pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Neck pain
  • Extreme exhaustion

The syndrome also can cause inflammation in different parts of the body, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes, and gastrointestinal organs.
When the disease attacks children's hearts and lungs, it can be especially dangerous. Some of the kids who've developed this condition have needed intensive care, and have been so sick they needed a ventilator to help them breathe or an artificial heart and lung machine known as ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation).

"The hallmarks seem to be a very sick child, and generally speaking, a child with low blood pressure and evidence of shock," said Dr. David Kimberlin, editor of Red Book, the Report of the Committee on Infectious Diseases for the American Academy of Pediatrics, in a previous interview with the Free Press. "There may be some abdominal pain, some diarrhea. ... They also may have a rash. They may not. They may have red eyes. They may not."

Khaldun said nearly 800 kids nationally have been diagnosed with MIS-C. Of them, more than two dozen are from Michigan. And 16 children in the U.S. have died from the syndrome, she said.

"COVID-19 is not something to be taken lightly," she said.

Contact Kristen Shamus: kshamus@freepress.com. Follow her on Twitter @kristenshamus.

Michigan Radio, Bridge Magazine, and The Detroit Free Press are teaming up to report on Michigan hospitals during the coronavirus pandemic. We will be sharing accounts of the challenges doctors, nurses and other hospital personnel face as they work to treat patients and save lives. If you work in a Michigan hospital, we would love to hear from you. You can contact reporters Robin Erb rerb@bridgemi.com at Bridge, Kristen Jordan Shamus kshamus@freepress.com at the Free Press and Kate Wells katwells@umich.edu at Michigan Radio.

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