- •We found a decrease in MOG-IgG-associated disorders in children during COVID-19 related lockdown.
- •Childhood parainfectious neuroinflammatory disorders also decreased during lockdown.
- •Rates of childhood MS and AQP-4 related disease did not change during the lockdown.
Despite better characterization of the spectrum of MOG-IgG-associated disorders (MOGAD) in children, the role of infection in its pathophysiology remains unclear. The goal of this study was to evaluate if public health measures put in place to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in March 2020 in Ontario (Canada) have been associated with a change in the incidence of MOGAD and other neuroinflammatory disorders in children.
We reviewed a single-centre cohort of children referred for a suspicion of neuroinflammatory disorder between January 2015 and March 2021. Age, date, sex, diagnosis, MOG-IgG antibodies status and detected pathogens at presentation were identified. Comparative statistical analysis was performed based on diagnosis between years and seasons using Pearson's Chi-squared test or Fisher's exact test for categorical variables and using ANOVA or Kruskal-Wallis test for continuous variables, as appropriate. We compared the post-lockdown period (March 17th, 2020, to March 31st, 2021) to previous calendar years (2015 to 2019) alone and to previous calendar years and the pre-lockdown 2020 period (January 1st, 2020, to March 16th, 2020). A p-value of < 0.05 was considered significant. Post-hoc pairwise comparisons between the post-lockdown period and previous years were performed on significant results. A false discovery rate adjustment with an adjusted p-value (q-value) < 0.05 was computed. We hypothesized that the number of new MOGAD would be significantly lower in the post-lockdown period compared to previous years due to decreased regional pathogen transmission.
Among 491 referred cases, we identified 415 new cases of neuroinflammatory disorder between January 2015 and March 2021. The number of new neuroinflammatory disorder diagnoses did not change between years. We noted significantly fewer new MOGAD diagnoses in 2020 compared to previous years, with no MOGAD patients presenting in 2020 after the spring lockdown (q=0.0009). In addition, there were significantly fewer parainfectious neuroinflammatory cases (q=0.04) and pathogen detected (q=0.04) in the post-lockdown period. The number of new multiple sclerosis (MS) and aquaporin-4 neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorders (AQP4-NMOSD) cases remained stable despite the lockdown (q=0.185 and 0.693 respectively).
Enhanced population-based infection control strategies may have a role in modulating the incidence of MOGAD and parainfectious neuroinflammatory disorders, but not MS or AQP4-NMOSD.
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Published online: September 27, 2021
Accepted: September 26, 2021
Received in revised form: September 2, 2021
Received: April 21, 2021
© 2021 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.