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Tuesday 19th June 2018

Children hit hard by swine flu

27th October 2010

New research has shown that three times as many children died from swine flu than from seasonal flu.

A paper published in The Lancet from research led by former Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson, shows that younger children were worst affected.

In the nine-month period of last year’s swine flu pandemic, there were 70 deaths in children under 16 that were attributed to swine flu.

This meant that six children per million died from swine flu, compared to two per million from seasonal flu.

Sir Liam’s paper said: “Our findings support the vaccination of children against pandemic influenza A H1N1. Children at greatest risk of severe illness or death should be prioritised.

"Our data indicates that risk groups include children with preexisting illness (including chronic neurological or gastrointestinal disease) and those in ethnic minority groups (including Bangladeshi and Pakistani children).

"However, our findings also suggest that protection cannot be confined to risk groups as 21% of deaths in our cohort occurred in healthy children."

The H1N1 swine flu strain of flu is included in this year's seasonal flu jab along with two other strains, though at present the government policy is only to vaccinate those in risk groups, such as those with long-term illnesses.

The research into every death connected to swine flu found that one in five - or 14 children who died from swine flu - were previously healthy.

The healthy children who died were more likely to have deteriorated rapidly and died before or at the point of hospital admission.


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