NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The number of children diagnosed with a rare disease believed to be related to COVID-19 is increasing nationwide.
New York is unfortunately leading the trend, and already three children here have died, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reported Monday.
Right now, 93 cases are being investigated in the state, alone. Close to half of those are in New York City.
This comes as authors of a new study are warning that children without chronic conditions are at greater risk to the virus than previously thought.
"The numbers just keep growing," said Dr. Lawrence Kleinman, the vice chair of pediatrics Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
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Kleinman is working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to study pediatric multi-system inflammatory syndrome. The illness believed to be coronavirus related is being seen in children in New Jersey and New York. Early diagnosis is key to successful recovery.
"I think if children have unusual abdominal pain it deserves medical attention and parents should insist on being evaluated," Kleinman said.
Children tend not to show respiratory issues, but do present abdominal pain, a change in skin color, or chest pain. Symptoms also include persistent fever and swollen lymph nodes.
New York City has issued a health alert to parents. Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot confirmed there are 38 cases and a dozen more being investigated.
"The majority of children have fallen within like the 5-to-9-year range, though we have certainly kids younger than that as well as older," Barbot said.
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Of the confirmed pediatric cases in the city, less than half tested positive for coronavirus. However, most who tested negative were found to have antibodies, Rozner reported.
"Often times times when they get the results back from COVID-19, the results may actually be negative," Barbot said. "We are encouraging pediatricians to also do antibody testing for these children, more so to confirm the diagnosis, not as an indication of whether or not it's going to then impact the case moving forward."
Kleinman just published the first study of pediatric COVID-19 patients in intensive care the Journal of the American Medical Association. Most had underlying conditions, but some did not.
"We need to treat this as an illness within all of our population," Kleinman said.
In terms of how this can be prevented, doctors say make sure children over the age of 2 are wearing a mask whenever they are outside, practice social distancing, and staying indoors as much as possible.
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