Sickle Cell Kids at Greater Risk of 'Swine Flu'
FRIDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- Children with sickle cell
disease experience more life-threatening complications from the
H1N1 swine flu than from seasonal flu, a new study has found.
This means that doctors and parents need to be aware that
children with sickle cell disease are more likely to need emergency
treatment and to be hospitalized, Dr. John Strouse of Johns Hopkins
Children's Center and colleagues explained in a Hopkins news
The study authors analyzed the medical records of 123 children
with sickle cell disease treated for any kind of flu between
September 1993 and December 2009. Of those, 29 were infected with
the 2009 H1N1 swine flu virus.
Both seasonal flu and the H1N1 virus caused typical flu
symptoms, such as fever, cough and a runny nose, in most of the
children. However, those infected with H1N1 were nearly three times
more likely to develop acute chest syndrome, a leading cause of
death in children with sickle cell disease. It is marked by lung
inflammation, reduced ability to absorb oxygen and shortness of
In addition, compared to children with seasonal flu,
H1N1-infected children had a more than five-times increased risk of
ending up in the intensive care unit, and were more likely to
require a ventilator for breathing.
The study, released online in advance of publication in an
upcoming print issue of the journal
Blood, underscores the need for vaccination against the H1N1 and the seasonal flu strains, the researchers said.
Sickle cell disease, an inherited disorder characterized by
abnormally shaped blood cells, affects about 100,000 people in the
United States, mostly black Americans. An earlier study from
Hopkins Children's Center showed that children with sickle cell
disease are hospitalized with seasonal flu nearly 80 times more
often than other youngsters.
The Nemours Foundation has more about
sickle cell disease.
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