Article

Burden of influenza in children in the community

University of Turku, Turku, Varsinais-Suomi, Finland
The Journal of Infectious Diseases (Impact Factor: 5.78). 10/2004; 190(8):1369-73. DOI: 10.1086/424527
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Influenza vaccination of healthy children is encouraged because children are frequently hospitalized for influenza-attributable illnesses. However, most children with influenza are treated as outpatients, and scarce data are available on the burden of influenza in these children.
We performed a prospective study of respiratory infections in preenrolled cohorts of children < or = 13 years old during 2 consecutive respiratory seasons (2231 child-seasons of follow-up). At any sign of respiratory infection, we examined the children and obtained a nasal swab for the detection of influenza. The parents filled out daily symptom diaries. Of all the enrollees, 94% remained active participants in the study.
The average annual rate of influenza was highest (179 cases/1000 children) among children < 3 years old. Acute otitis media developed as a complication of influenza in 39.7% of children < 3 years old. For every 100 influenza-infected children < 3 years old, there were 195 days of parental work loss (mean duration, 3.2 days).
Influenza causes a substantial burden of illness on outpatient children and their families. Vaccination of children < 3 years old might be beneficial for reducing the direct and indirect costs of influenza in children.

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    • "Due to the high rate of influenza infection in children and the availability of safe and effective vaccines [1] [2] [3] [4] [5], the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends influenza vaccination for all children 6 months and older for their own protection [6]. A study by Public Health England researchers that also took into account the role of children in the transmission of influenza concluded that the most efficient use of vaccines to reduce overall influenza morbidity and mortality in England and Wales is to target children in addition to older adults [7]. "
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    • "Furthermore, pediatric influenza exerts a considerable socioeconomic burden in terms of direct and indirect costs, and excess health-care utilization (6, 7, 8). Children also serve as a reservoir for household transmission of influenza, causing secondary illness in the family (8, 9). "
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    • "In Finland during 2000–2002, 75 % of children with influenza illness missed school or day care, with an average absenteeism of 3.4 days. Additionally, a parent missed at least 1 day of work in 49.4 % of pediatric influenza illnesses, with absenteeism averaging 2.7 days [7]. The current analysis provides valuable estimates of the incidence of absenteeism among children with influenza illness for additional European countries. "
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