Each year, influenza
causes an estimated 54,000 to 430,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 to 49,000
deaths in the U.S., with infection rates highest among children. In the study,
“Influenza-Associated Pediatric Deaths in the United States, 2004-2012,” published
in the November 2013 issue of Pediatrics (published online Oct. 28),
researchers reviewed U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
records of children, ages 18 and younger, with laboratory-confirmed influenza.
These records included demographic, medical condition, treatment course, and
laboratory data. From October 2004 through September 2012, 830 pediatric
influenza-associated deaths were reported. Thirty-five percent of these
children (median age 7) died before hospital admission. Of the 794 children
with a known medical history, 43 percent had no high-risk medication
conditions, 33 percent had neurologic disorders, and 2 percent had genetic or
chromosomal disorders. Children without high-risk medical conditions were more
likely to die before, or within three days of, hospital admission than those
with high-risk medical conditions. As influenza can be fatal in children with
and without risk factors, the study authors recommend that all children receive
annual influenza vaccinations. In addition, children hospitalized for influenza
should be given antiviral treatment as soon as possible.
The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists
and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and
well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more
information, visit www.aap.org.