Children with asthma at heightened risk for influenza-related complications
Children with asthma who required inpatient care during the influenza pandemic faced an elevated risk for serious complications, including pneumonia and intensive care, according to research reported online this week.
Fatimah S. Dawood, MD, and other CDC researchers reviewed data derived from the CDC’s Emerging Infections Program for children with asthma. The researchers compared influenza seasons from October 2003 to April 2009, and then during the pandemic period (April 15 to Dec. 31, 2009). They identified 701 of 2,165 children during the seasonal influenza years, and 733 of 1,660 children during the pandemic season.
Based on the data, the researchers reported that 40% of children with asthma and seasonal influenza were diagnosed with pneumonia vs. 46% during the pandemic year. Among asthmatic children with seasonal influenza, 16% needed intensive care vs. 22% of those children who had the pandemic strain of influenza.
The study had some limitations, according to the researchers, notably that they had no data on asthma treatments or underlying asthma severity, which may predict complications. The researchers said their findings highlight the importance of influenza vaccination in populations that are at risk for more severe complications from influenza.
“Given the consistently low influenza vaccine coverage levels among children with asthma in the United States, our findings highlight the importance of actively working to increase annual influenza vaccination of children with asthma,” the researchers concluded.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.
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