Neuro conditions cited in H1N1 deaths

October 15, 2009

Almost two-thirds of the children who died with H1N1 had epilepsy, cerebral palsy or other neurodevelopmental conditions.

About one in 13 H1N1 deaths in the United States have been children, and most of them have been of school age, according to the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention.

More than 40 U.S. children have died from the virus since it was first identified in here in April.

The CDC has found some differences in the pediatric death toll from H1N1 as compared with seasonal flu, including:
• Normally, half or more of the children who die from flu are age 4 and younger. More than 80% of the children with H1N1 were age 5 or older.
• Almost two-thirds of the children who died with H1N1 had epilepsy, cerebral palsy or other neurodevelopmental conditions. In a previous flu season, only one-third of pediatric deaths had those conditions.
• Bacterial co-infections were a big danger and were blamed in most of the deaths of otherwise healthy children.

The general consensus is that there are two main issues: getting information about the virus to high-risk populations; and addressing those who may be sick as well as the “worried well.”

“Such an effort must be undertaken in a way that is supportive but does not cause alarm,” says Alexandra Drane, president and co-founder of Eliza Corp., who recently attended a summit on H1N1 preparedness in Washington, D.C.

“Despite all the attention we’ve spent on preparing for potential H1N1 outbreaks, we must all stay vigilant in our efforts to prevent seasonal flu, especially among populations who may not be as vulnerable to the H1N1 virus,” Drane tells Managed Healthcare Executive.