Background:Pediatric pseudotumor cerebri syndrome (PTCS) is a vision-threatening condition that is associated with female sex and obesity in pubertal and postpubertal children. It is unknown whether the increase in childhood obesity during the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the rates and characteristics of pediatric PTCS.Methods:We conducted a retrospective study of children evaluated for PTCS (inpatient or emergency department) at our children's hospital before (March 19, 2015 to March 19, 2020) and during (March 20, 2020 to February 20, 2021) the pandemic. We compared the monthly number of inpatient and emergency department encounters for pediatric PTCS before and during the pandemic. In addition, anthropometric and ophthalmologic characteristics of children evaluated for pediatric PTCS before and during the pandemic were compared.Results:A total of 36 encounters in the 5 years before the pandemic and 26 encounters in the 11 months during the pandemic were identified. The median monthly number of encounters for pediatric PTCS was significantly higher during the pandemic compared with the 5 years before the pandemic (2 vs 0, P = 0.0021). Compared with prepandemic patients, children evaluated during the pandemic were older (median age 16 vs 14 years, P = 0.02), with higher rates of obesity (85% vs 66%, P = 0.05) and lower likelihood of reporting Caucasian race (4% vs 31%, P = 0.02). Pandemic patients had worse presenting visual acuity (median logMAR 0.14 vs 0.05, P = 0.05) and were more likely to have fulminant presentation (23% vs 6%, P = 0.04) and require surgical intervention (23% vs 6%, P = 0.04).Conclusions:At our children's hospital, the rate of inpatient admissions and emergency department visits for pediatric PTCS increased during the pandemic. The severity of disease and frequency of surgical treatment also increased. Racial and ethnic minorities seem to be disproportionately affected. These changes may be related to increasing rates of childhood obesity during the pandemic.
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