Relapse rate in children with nephrotic syndrome during the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic

Benedetta Chiodini, Anita Sofia Bellotti, William Morello, Chiara Bulgaro, Ilaria Farella, Mario Giordano, Giovanni Montini, Khalid Ismaili, Karl Martin Wissing

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Viral upper respiratory tract infections trigger nephrotic syndrome relapses. Few data exist on the impact of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic on the risk of relapse in children with idiopathic nephrotic syndrome (INS).

METHODS: In a Belgian and Italian cohort of children with INS, we performed a retrospective analysis on the number and duration of relapses observed in 3 different periods in 2020: first COVID period, February 15-May 31; second COVID period, June 1-September 14; third COVID period, September 15-December 31. Relapse rates were compared to those of the previous 5 years (PRECOVID period). For the years 2019 and 2020, all causes and INS relapse-related hospitalizations were recorded. Hospitalizations and deaths due to SARS-CoV-2 infection were also recorded. In the Belgian cohort, SARS-CoV-2 serologies were performed.

RESULTS: A total of 218 patients were enrolled, and 29 (13.3%) were diagnosed with new-onset INS during the COVID period. Relapse rates per 1000 person-days were as follows: 3.2 in the PRECOVID period, 2.7 in the first COVID period, 3.3 in the second COVID period, and 3.0 in the third COVID period. The incidence rate ratio for the total COVID period was 0.9 (95%CI 0.76 to 1.06; P = 0.21) as compared to the PRECOVID period. During 2020, both the proportion of patients hospitalized for recurrence (14.2% vs. 7.6% in 2019; P = 0.03) and the rate of hospitalization for recurrence (IRR 1.97 (95%CI 1.35 to 2.88); P = 0.013) were higher compared to 2019. In December 2020, anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies were detected in 31% of the Belgian cohort. Patients with positive and negative SARS-CoV-2 serology did not differ significantly in relapse rate (2.4 versus 4.2 per 1000 person-days). The number of new INS cases remained similar between 2020, 2019, and 2018.

CONCLUSION: The first year of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic did not significantly affect the relapse rate in children with INS. No serious infections were reported in this population of immunosuppressed patients. A higher resolution version of the Graphical abstract is available as Supplementary information.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1139-1146
Number of pages8
JournalPediatric Nephrology
Issue number4
Early online date17 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to International Pediatric Nephrology Association.

Copyright 2023 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • COVID-19;
  • Children
  • Idiopathic nephrotic syndrome
  • Relapse
  • SARS-CoV-2 infection


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