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 medical 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.