Risk factors for influenza-related complications in children: a retrospective cohort study using linked routinely collected data from the Clinical Practice Research Datalink and National Pandemic Flu Service
- 1 October 2015 to 30 September 2016
- Project No: 268
- Funding round: FR 9
- Child health
Flu (influenza) and flu-like symptoms are among the most common reasons why parents bring their children to see a doctor or nurse, especially in winter and during flu outbreaks (such as the ‘swine flu pandemic’ in 2009-10). For most children, flu is a mild and relatively short illness. However, some children can become more unwell if they get flu, and develop further complications, such as chest, throat and ear infections.
Certain children with existing medical conditions, such as asthma and diabetes, are more prone to developing further complications than otherwise healthy children. However, even though most children with flu and flu-related complications are seen by doctors and nurses in the community, most of the research done so far has involved children with flu who were seen in hospital clinics or emergency departments, and has only looked at which children are more likely to be admitted to hospital.
To help us find out which children with flu or flu-like symptoms in the community are at ‘high risk’ of flu-related complications, we will look at the medical records of around 90,000 children who saw a doctor or nurse in their GP surgery, or whose parents contacted the National Pandemic Flu Service on their behalf during the ‘swine flu pandemic’. We will look both at children who had flu-related complications which were treated in the community and those who were admitted to hospital.
The results of our study will help doctors and nurses identify and treat children with flu or flu-like symptoms promptly and safely. Our results will also help government policy makers ensure that there are good supplies of flu vaccines and medicines (such as Tamiflu® and antibiotics) in preparation for future flu outbreaks, and decide which children should be given priority if these supplies are used up more quickly than expected.