CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Research has found a possible genetic cause for why some children who’ve had COVID-19 infection also develop multisystem inflammatory syndrome (MIS-C).

For those unfamiliar, MIS-C is a rare but potentially life-threatening condition which can impact different parts of the body, like the heart, lungs and brain.

“The exciting thing about this study is it’s really the first indication of a genetic cause for MIS-C and that opens doors,” explained Robert Silverman, PhD, researcher for Cleveland Clinic. “It gives rise to mechanistic studies, so how these mutations result in MIS-C and can that be used in the future. For instance, in better diagnostics.”

Dr. Silverman has been studying antiviral genes for decades and took part in the MIS-C research involving mutations of these same genes.

He said the team looked at DNA sequencing data from children who had COVID-19 and MIS-C, along with children who only had COVID-19.

From there, they were able to identify a potential underlying genetic cause in a small number of cases.

According to the CDC, more than 9,000 cases of MIS-C have been reported in the United States.

The average age of a child with MIS-C was nine years old.

Dr. Silverman said their research is still far from over and they’re hopeful about how these findings can help with other infections.

“Another possible advantage to the study is it could lead to breakthroughs or discoveries about other chronic viral infections and inflammation in particular,” he noted.

Symptoms of MIS-C in children vary. However, they mainly include a persistent fever, rash, red eyes, fatigue, abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

Concerned parents should contact their pediatricians.