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Flu burden in the young is greater than was thought


Almost one child in 10 is assessed in hospital for flu by the age of six ­ a larger burden than had been thought ­ a new study reveals.

Researchers said the figures, based on a season with low flu activity, were likely to be a cautious estimate.

The study, published in Vaccine (January), also found vaccinating only children at high risk of flu was likely to have little impact on hospitalisations, as 85 per cent of those assessed had no underlying medical condition.

Study leader Professor Karl Nicholson, professor of infectious diseases at the University of Leicester, said: 'Even during a non-epidemic year, about 5,300 hospitalisations among young children in England and Wales will be attributable to flu, few of whom have a prior risk.'

The study of 613 children aged under six who attended hospital during a flu season found 21.3 per cent of medical assessments were attributable to influenza, respiratory syncytial virus or human meta-pneumovirus.

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