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Kawasaki disease is a
rare childhood illness that affects the blood vessels. The symptoms can be
severe for several days and can look scary to parents. But then most children return to normal activities.
Kawasaki disease can harm the
coronary arteries, which carry blood to the heart muscle.
Most children who are treated recover from the disease without long-term
problems. Your doctor will watch your child for heart problems for a few weeks
to a few months after treatment.
The disease is most common in
children ages 1 to 2 years and is less common in children older than age 8. It
does not spread from child to child (is not contagious).
Experts don't know
what causes the disease. The disease happens most often in the late winter and early
Symptoms of Kawasaki
Get medical help right away if
your child has symptoms of Kawasaki disease. Early diagnosis and treatment can
often prevent future heart problems.
disease can be hard to diagnose, because there is not a test for it. Your doctor
may diagnose Kawasaki disease if both of these things are true:
Your child may also have routine lab tests. And the doctor may order an echocardiogram to check for heart problems.
After your child gets better, he or she will need checkups
to watch for heart problems.
Treatment for Kawasaki disease
starts in the hospital. It may include:
Aspirin therapy is often continued at home. Because of the
Reye syndrome, do not give aspirin to your child without talking to your doctor. If your child is
exposed to or develops
chickenpox or flu (influenza)
while taking aspirin, talk with your doctor right away.
Your child may be tired and fussy, and his or her skin may be dry for a month or so. Try not to let your child get overly tired. And use skin lotion to help keep the fingers and toes moist.
If the disease causes heart problems, your child may need more treatment and follow-up tests.
It may be a few weeks before your child feels completely well. But most children
who have Kawasaki disease get better and have no long-term problems. Early treatment is
important, because it shortens the illness and lowers the chances of
heart problems. Follow-up tests can help you and your doctor be sure that the disease did not cause heart problems.
Some children will have damage to
the coronary arteries. An artery may get too large and form an
aneurysm. Or the arteries may narrow or be at risk for blood
clots. A child who has damaged coronary arteries may be more likely to have a
heart attack as a young adult. If your child is affected, know what to watch for and when to seek care.
Learning about Kawasaki disease:
This American Academy of Pediatrics website has information for parents about childhood issues, from before the child is born to young adulthood. You'll find information on child growth and development, immunizations, safety, health issues, behavior, and much more.
Visit the American Heart Association (AHA) website for information on
physical activity, diet, and various heart-related conditions. You can search for information on heart disease and stroke, share information with friends and family, and use tools to help you make heart-healthy goals and plans. Contact the AHA to find your
nearest local or state AHA group. The AHA provides brochures and information
about support groups and community programs, including Mended Hearts, a
nationwide organization whose members visit people with heart problems and
provide information and support.
The Kawasaki Disease Foundation is a nonprofit
organization. You can sign up for newsletters and find support and information
on the Web site.
This website is sponsored by the Nemours Foundation. It
has a wide range of information about children's health—from allergies and
diseases to normal growth and development (birth to adolescence). This website
offers separate areas for kids, teens, and parents, each providing
age-appropriate information that the child or parent can understand. You can
sign up to get weekly emails about your area of interest.
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
(NHLBI) information center offers information and publications about preventing
Other Works Consulted
Newburger JW, et al. (2006). Kawasaki disease. In FD Burg et al., eds., Current Pediatric Therapy, 18th ed., pp. 497–503. Philadelphia: Saunders.
Saulsbury FT (2010). Kawasaki syndrome. In GL Mandell et al., Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 3663–3666. Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
Shulman ST (2009). Kawasaki disease. In RD Feigin et al., eds., Feigin and Cherry's Textbook of Pediatric Infectious Diseases, 6th ed., vol. 1, pp. 1153–1175. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
Son MBF, Newburger JW (2011). Kawasaki disease. In RM Kliegman et al., eds., Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics, 19th ed., pp. 862–867. Philadelphia: Saunders Elsevier.
Takahashi M, Newburger JW (2008). Kawasaki disease (mucocutaneous lymph node syndrome). In HD Allen et al., eds., Moss and Adams' Heart Disease in Infants, Children, and Adolescents, Including the Fetus and Young Adult, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 1242–1256. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
November 26, 2012
John Pope, MD - Pediatrics & Stanford T. Shulman, MD - Pediatrics
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