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Kids With Asthma Have Higher Chance Of Developing Severe Cases Of H1N1: Report

Children with asthma are at an increased risk of developing severe cases of H1N1 as compared to kids with the seasonal flu, according to researchers from the Hospital for Sick Children.

A new study compared severe cases of the pandemic and seasonal virus in youngsters. According to the report, published Thursday by the Canadian Medical Association Journal, 22 per cent of kids admitted to hospital with H1N1 had asthma, compared to six per cent of those with the seasonal flu.

Experts at Sick Kids analyzed the charts of 58 children admitted to the hospital with H1N1 between May 8 and July 22, 2009, and 200 kids admitted with seasonal flu over the past five years.

In all, 46 of the kids with H1N1, or 79 per cent, had underlying medical conditions.

Two of the children with H1N1 had “poorly controlled asthma” and six used inhalers intermittently.

The study notes that of the remaining 12 children with H1N1, who didn’t have underlying medical conditions, five were under two-years-old.

There also wasn’t a significant difference in the rates of admission to the intensive care unit — 21 per cent of H1N1 patients and 14 per cent for youngsters with the seasonal flu.

“Pandemic H1N1 influenza did not appear to cause more severe disease than seasonal influenza A,” the report states.

Other than the influence of asthma, another major difference between the two study groups was age: kids admitted for H1N1 were significantly older than those with the seasonal virus – six years-old, on average, compared to three.

In both groups of kids the average hospital stay was four days.

The researchers suggest this information should influence vaccination programs for certain children and prompt doctors to use pre-emptive anti-viral therapy.