Date: 04 Jun 2011

Admission diagnoses of children 0–16 years of age hospitalized with influenza

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The prompt diagnosis of influenza enables the institution of antiviral therapy and adequate cohorting of patients, but scarce data are available to help clinicians correctly suspect influenza in children at the time of admission. This 16-year retrospective study assessed the main admission diagnoses of 401 children aged ≤16 years hospitalized with virologically confirmed influenza. The clinical data were derived from a systematic review of the medical records of the children. Sepsis-like illness was the main reason for admission in 52% of infants aged <6 months and in 7–16% of the older children. Respiratory symptoms accounted for 38% of admissions, and 15% of children were hospitalized due to acute neurologic conditions, primarily febrile convulsions. Wheezing or exacerbation of asthma was the primary reason for admission in 14% of children aged <3 years. No differences were observed in the admission diagnoses between children with influenza A and B infections. The main admission diagnoses vary widely in different age groups of children with influenza, and only a minority of children are hospitalized for respiratory symptoms. The leading role of sepsis-like illness in infants aged <6 months calls for increased efforts to find protective measures against influenza in this age group.