Feature

Health scare of the week: Robust kids dying from the flu

A child’s general good health is no guarantee that a case of the flu won’t have fatal consequences.

A child’s general good health is no guarantee that a case of the flu won’t have fatal consequences, according to a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A surprising 43 percent of the 830 children who died from flu complications in the U.S. between October 2004 and September 2012 were otherwise healthy and did not have high-risk medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes, cancer, congenital heart defects, or neurological disorders. “The most sobering message is that almost half of these children had no underlying medical condition—they were normal, healthy children,” Vanderbilt University medical professor William Schaffner tells USA Today. “That’s a profound fact when you think about it.” The findings emerged from the first comprehensive analysis of childhood flu deaths since a national surveillance system began tracking such cases nearly a decade ago. Researchers also found that children in good health seemed to progress from the initial flu infection to death more rapidly than children with high-risk medical conditions. The CDC recommends that all children six months or older get the flu vaccine every year.

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