Pediatric Kawasaki Disease

Pediatric Kawasaki Disease

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Summary

Kawasaki disease is a condition that causes inflammation in the blood vessels that can lead to heart damage.

Expanded overview

Kawasaki disease is a form of acquired heart disease, meaning it develops after birth. Normally, acquired heart diseases affect adults, however, Kawasaki disease is an acute (sudden) childhood illness.

Kawasaki disease causes inflammation of the blood vessels throughout the body. If left untreated, it can lead to damage of the coronary arteries, which supply oxygen to the heart. This can lead to long-term heart disease or an aneurysm (damaged blood vessel wall).

Kawasaki disease affects infants (0-1 years of age*) and young children (under age five) most often, however, any child can develop the condition. When Kawasaki disease is caught and treated early, a child is unlikely to suffer from long-term heart problems or develop an aneurysm.

Causes

It is unknown exactly what causes Kawasaki disease. Some researchers believe that the condition is an immune reaction that a child may have to an infection. It is also thought that there may be a genetic tendency to having this reaction.

Risk factors

Any child can develop Kawasaki disease; however, it occurs more often in children who are Asian or Asian-American.

Symptoms

The symptoms of Kawasaki disease may include:

  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Cracked, red lips
  • Diarrhea
  • High fever (over 102 degrees Fahrenheit)
  • Irritability
  • Peeling fingers and toes (two to three weeks after first fever)
  • Rash on the entire body
  • Red palms and soles of feet
  • Rough, red spots on tongue
  • Severe rash in the diaper area
  • Swollen hands and feet
  • Swollen lymph nodes on one side of neck
  • Vomiting

*Age of infants as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO).

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