Source: CDC News Release
During the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic, a disproportionately high number of children with neurologic disorders died from influenza complications, scientists with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report. Their study, published in the journal Pediatrics, notes the importance of influenza vaccination to protect children with underlying neurologic disorders. The study looked at data submitted to CDC from state and local health departments regarding influenza-related deaths in children during the pandemic. The number of pediatric deaths associated with the H1N1 virus was more than five times the median number of pediatric deaths reported in the five flu seasons before the pandemic. Out of 336 children who died from 2009 H1N1 flu-associated causes, 227 had one or more underlying health conditions, and 146 had a preexisting neurologic disorder such as cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, or epilepsy. Among children with neurologic disorders with available information on their vaccination status, only 21 (23 percent) had received the seasonal influenza vaccine and two (3 percent) were fully vaccinated for 2009 H1N1. “Flu is particularly dangerous for people who may have trouble with muscle function, lung function or difficulty coughing, swallowing or clearing fluids from their airways,” said study co-author and pediatrician Dr. Georgina Peacock. “These problems are sometimes experienced by children with neurologic disorders.” The CDC is partnering with the American Academy of Pediatrics and influenza advocacy groups to promote awareness of influenza prevention and treatment in such high-risk children. The CDC recommends that everyone aged six months and older receive an annual influenza vaccination, including people who at risk of developing serious complications.