Fil-Am Kids at High Risk for Kawasaki Disease

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Filipino-American children in San Diego, Calif., compared with non-Filipinos, are at higher risk of contracting the "Kawasaki Disease" (KD), a heart ailment that may cause sudden death among children, a study has shown.

The study shows that nearly 24 percent of Filipino children with KD in San Diego County were found to have aneurysms or inflammation of the blood vessels of the heart compared with only 10.5 percent of children of other Asian descent.

“Filipinos make up the largest Asian subgroup in San Diego County, yet, there are no available reports of KD in Filipino children," says Adriana H. Tremoulet, MD, MAS, assistant professor, Department of Pediatrics, UC San Diego School of Medicine.

“With the results of this study, our call to action is for medical providers to have a heightened awareness of KD, so patients can be treated promptly and the risk of heart disease is minimized. Parents, especially those of Filipino descent, need to know the signs and symptoms of KD and when to contact their physician."

The researchers analyzed 345 patients in San Diego County who had KD, collecting clinical and demographic data, across three groups – Filipino, non-Filipino Asians and others.

While working at the Tokyo Red Cross Medical Centre in Japan, Tomisaku Kawasaki noticed about 50 children from 1961-1967 with a distinctive clinical illness characterized by fever and rash, which was then thought to be a benign childhood illness. Post-mortem reports on sudden deaths found that they were due to serious complications involving the heart, causing large thrombosis and MI (myocardial infarction).

Kawasaki disease is now recognized worldwide. While it is more common among the Japanese, it is now known to occur in all racial groups, primarily in children under than 5 years of age.