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Young Children Hospitalized for Flu Associated With Higher Costs and Higher Risk Illness
Date:4/30/2008

Importance of Preventive Flu Shots for Children and Their Contacts Underscored by Research Led by Cincinnati Children's and Presented at PAS

CINCINNATI, April 30 /PRNewswire/ -- The high costs of hospitalizing young children for influenza creates a significant economic burden in the United States, underscoring the importance of preventive flu shots for children and the people with whom they have regular contact, according to research led by Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center and presented May 4 at the Pediatric Academic Society annual meeting in Honolulu, Hawaii.

After analyzing data in three U.S. cities over the course of three flu seasons (2003-2006), the researchers found that 90 percent of the highest-cost hospitalizations for children were linked to influenza, or flu with a co-infection of the respiratory tract. Children with the highest-cost visits were more likely to have high-risk conditions, emphasizing the importance of having these children immunized, said Gerry Fairbrother, Ph.D., a researcher in the Center for Clinical Effectiveness and Health Care Policy at Cincinnati Children's and senior author of the study.

Contributing most to the highest-cost hospitalizations were stays in the intensive care unit (ICU), with 65 percent of high-cost visits requiring ICU stays. Fifty-nine percent of children hospitalized for flu who also had high risk conditions spent time in the ICU, compared to 23 percent of children without high-risk conditions.

"Our study emphasizes the importance of ensuring that children and people they are in regular contact with be immunized for flu. It's vital to protect their health and to avoid the high costs of hospitalizations that are preventable," said Mary Staat, M.D., Ph.D., a physician and researcher in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Cincinnati Children's and study co-author.

In the study, researchers identified children under the age of 5 years who were hospitalized wi
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SOURCE Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
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