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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