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About Sickkids
About SickKids

November 19, 2009

Asthma found to play a significant role in children developing H1N1 complications

TORONTO - If your child has asthma, a new study shows you should be extra vigilant in making sure they don’t get H1N1. Researchers from The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) found a higher percentage of asthmatic children were hospitalized due to H1N1 compared to the seasonal flu.

The paper, published online today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), is one of the largest studies on this topic in children to date. The scientists looked at charts from H1N1 patients who were admitted to SickKids from May to July of this year and compared information from season flu patients who were admitted over the last five years.

They found 22 per cent of children admitted with H1N1 had asthma compared to six per cent of patients admitted with seasonal flu. They also found that just over 40 per cent of all H1N1 admissions to the ICU were for children with asthma.

Interestingly, children admitted with H1N1 were found to be older than those admitted for seasonal flu, with significantly more over the age of five. The length of stay for both types of flu was found to be roughly the same; the average was four days.

“There are few published studies that compare H1N1 to seasonal flu with specific focus on the severity of asthma or the clinical course and outcomes of children with asthma.” says Dr. Dat Tran, Associate Scientist at SickKids and Assistant Professor of Paediatrics at the University of Toronto. “Our experience suggests that asthma is a more significant risk factor for severe pandemic H1N1 influenza than for seasonal influenza and that children with mild asthma are also at risk”.

In terms of severity of the two types of flu, the study shows none of the children admitted with pandemic influenza died, compared to one death over five years in children admitted for seasonal flu.