Report shows toll H1N1 took on California children

A report recently issued by the California Department of Health states that one quarter of children in California who were hospitalized by the H1N1 flu in 2009 were taken to intensive care units or died.

"While hospitalization for 2009 H1N1 influenza in children appeared to occur at similar rates as with seasonal influenza, this study provides further evidence that children, especially those with high-risk conditions, can be very ill with H1N1," lead researcher Dr. Janice K. Louie told Bloomberg Businessweek. "Fortunately, not many children died. Those that did had many underlying conditions. Antiviral medication given early seems to have lessened the chance of severe illness."

Young people appear to have been hit especially hard by H1N1, research has revealed. Children from ages 10 to 18 accounted for 40 percent of recorded cases. The reason for this most likely lies in their general lack of acquired immunities, Bloomberg  Businesweek reports. Old generations have acquired immunities through repeated exposure to existing flu strains and also repeated vaccinations against them.

Flu experts do not seem particularly worried that H1N1 will pose a threat in 2010-2011, but they have warned doctors to be vigilant for underlying risk factors in children, especially infants.

"My feeling is that we are over the hump," Dr. Marc Siegel, an associate professor of medicine at New York University, said, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. "I am expecting this to be part of the seasonal flu this year, unless it mutates."