Pediatric Academic Societies Annual Meeting; Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: 1–4 May 2010
MedWire News: Results from a US study show that children hospitalized with pandemic H1N1 influenza (swine flu) in 2009 were older and more likely to have underlying medical conditions than those hospitalized with seasonal influenza during previous flu seasons.
"Our findings underscore the importance of influenza immunization in children of all ages and particularly in children with underlying medical conditions," said lead researcher Fatimah Dawood, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.
Dawood and team studied data from 10 US states on 4798 children, age 18 years or younger, who were hospitalized with seasonal influenza between 2003 and 2009 and 514 who were hospitalized with swine flu in 2009.
They found that the median age of children hospitalized with swine flu was 5 years, compared with a median age of 1 year for those hospitalized with seasonal flu.
Furthermore, children with swine flu were more likely than those with seasonal flu to have underlying medical conditions (61% versus 44%), particularly asthma (32% versus 18%).
Children with swine flu were also more likely than those with seasonal flu to be admitted to an intensive care unit, at 20% versus 13%.
Dawood concluded: "Ensuring immunization of children at risk for hospitalization with influenza will remain critical during the upcoming 2010-2011 influenza season when the 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus may continue to circulate and other seasonal influenza viruses may circulate as well."
He added: "These findings also support the use of early antiviral treatment in children with 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza who require hospitalization… Prior studies of seasonal influenza have demonstrated that antiviral treatment may improve outcomes in patients with severe influenza."
The findings were presented at the annual meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
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