Ninety million children contract flu each year, report reveals

In a study published in the journal The Lancet, researchers determined that approximately 90 million children contract seasonal flu each year worldwide, resulting in approximately one million hospital admissions and 111,500 deaths due to influenza-related pneumonia.
The researchers conducted the study to better explain the burden of pediatric pneumonia worldwide. In developing countries, a large amount of mortality and incidence data from influenza-linked pneumonia remains unpublished, Medical News Today reports.
"Influenza is the second most common pathogen identified in children with acute lower respiratory infection [pneumonia] and contributes substantially to the burden of hospitalization and mortality in young children," the authors wrote, according to Medical News Today. "Our estimates should inform public health policy and vaccine strategy, especially in developing countries."
Harish Nair from the Center for Population Health Sciences at the Medical School at the University of Edinburgh and his global team formed an international influenza study group to supplement their systematic literature review. The team identified 43 suitable studies and estimated that worldwide approximately 90 million new cases of influenza occurred in children below the age of five, with 20 million cases of pneumonia caused by influenza.
"Our report should also help inform donor agencies in assigning funding priorities for novel vaccine development and implementation or other influenza prevention strategies," the authors wrote, according to Medical News Today. "Until the widespread implementation of an effective influenza vaccine is achievable, reliable provision of effective case management (including oxygen therapy for hypoxemia and antibiotic treatment of secondary bacterial infections) will substantially reduce sequelae and mortality associated with this disease."
The authors estimated that between 28,000 and 111,500 children below the age of five died in 2008 due to influenza-linked pneumonia, with 99 percent of deaths occurring in developing countries.
"Importantly, Nair and colleagues' study concludes that most childhood mortality occurs outside of hospital settings, with roughly 15-fold differences of case fatality ratio between developing and developed countries. Most of the world's children live in the developing world," Maria Zambon, from the Health Protection Agency in London, said, Medical News Today reports. "This finding is confirmation of the high disease burden caused by influenza in the youngest age groups, even if the exact numbers are obscure. Robust, evidence-based comparisons of health interventions, such as selective versus universal vaccination policies between different countries and regions, are essential to help decision makers with restricted resources who are trying to get the best return for the lowest cost."