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The burden of influenza in children

Iskander, Marya; Booy, Roberta; Lambert, Stephenb

Current Opinion in Infectious Diseases: June 2007 - Volume 20 - Issue 3 - p 259–263
doi: 10.1097/QCO.0b013e3280ad4687
Paediatric and neonatal infections

Purpose of review This review summarizes recent studies that better address the burden of influenza from the medical and socioeconomic perspectives. The issue of influenza in children is one that has implications for future universal vaccination policies.

Recent findings In the past, the burden of influenza in children was largely defined by hospital-based studies that quantify the incidence of influenza hospitalization and, consequently, the benefit of prevention in young children. The medical and the socioeconomic impact have been better appreciated recently with population-based studies because the great majority of children are managed as outpatients. Children with influenza may not have direct contact with medical services but still generate substantial costs in carer illness or work-day loss. Furthermore, the specificity offered by laboratory confirmation of influenza has enabled influenza to be separated from other respiratory viruses that may have confounded previous studies looking at the medical and economic costs of illness.

Summary Better understanding of the burden of influenza in healthy children regarding hospitalization rates, outpatient medical visits, community-managed illness and socioeconomic impact on families and society exists; this has potential implications for universal vaccination policies under consideration.

aNational Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, Children Hospital at Westmead, Westmead, New South Wales, Australia

bUniversity of Melbourne, Melbourne, New South Wales, Australia

Correspondence to Mary Iskander, National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance, Children Hospital at Westmead, Corner of Hawksbury and Hainsworth Street, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia Tel: +(02) 98450122; e-mail:

© 2007 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.