A risk-stratified approach toward safely resuming OnabotulinumtoxinA injections based on dosing and ambulatory status in pediatric patients with cerebral palsy during the Coronavirus pandemic of 2019 (COVID-19).

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DOI: 10.3233/PRM-200756


PURPOSE: After the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic of 2019-2020 (COVID-19), physicians who inject OnabotulinumtoxinA (BoNT-A) were left with determining risks and benefits in pediatric patients with cerebral palsy. Many of these patients have pre-existing conditions that make them more prone to COVID-19 symptoms, and this susceptibility potentially increases after BoNT-A injections.

METHODS: A retrospective chart review of 500 patients identified 256 pediatric patients with cerebral palsy who received an intramuscular BoNT-A injection to determine relative doses used for each Gross Motor Functional Classification Score (GMFCS). Data regarding age, weight, GMFCS, BoNT-A total body dosage, and inpatient hospitalizations for 6 months post-injection were collected. Differences between GMFCS levels were analyzed using one-way analysis of variance testing. Inpatient hospitalizations were recorded and assessed using relative risk to determine the population risk of hospitalization in the setting of initiating injections during the COVID-19 pandemic.

RESULTS: Based on GMFCS level, patients who were GMFCS I or II received fewer units of BoNT-A medication per kilogram of body weight compared to GMFCS III-V (p< 0.0005, F= 25.38). There was no statistically significant difference in frequency or time to hospitalization when comparing patients receiving BoNT-A compared to a control group.

CONCLUSIONS: Resumption of BoNT-A injections during the time of COVID-19 requires a systematic approach based on risks and potential benefits. Data from this analysis does not show increased risk for patients who received injections historically; however, recommendations for resumption of injections has not previously been proposed in the setting of a pandemic. In this manuscript, a tiered approach to considerations for injections was proposed. Botulinum toxin type A injections have a history of improving spasticity in the pediatric patient with cerebral palsy. Ensuring appropriate selection of patients for injection with BoNT-A during this pandemic is increasingly important.

Journal Title

J Pediatr Rehabil Med





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COVID-19; Cerebral palsy; adverse events; botulinum toxins; drug-related side effects and adverse reactions

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