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Experts warn of flu danger to children

Doctors are seriously under-estimating the risk of influenza to children despite the fact they are three times more

likely to be infected than adults, according to a new

report.

Leading influenza experts from across Europe called for vaccination programmes to be extended and a better understanding of paediatric influenza, estimated to kill eight children per 1,000,000 every year, in the report published last month.

The report, sponsored and published by Roche, reveals that 57 per cent of doctors in the UK do not rate influenza as a serious concern to children's health. Only one in 10 mothers would be concerned if their child contracted the virus.

But study co-author Professor Robert Booy, a paediatrician at the Royal London Hospital, warned: 'Influenza in children is a serious condition. When secondary complications develop, the child's long-term health, development and even life can be at risk.'

On average one in three children is affected by influenza annually compared with one in 10 adults.

Although influenza can be difficult to diagnose in children, the survey showed more than 90 per cent of frontline physicians treating children do not use a swab test to identify the illness.

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