Call to vaccinate family to protect babies from influenza

The study, conducted by Westmead Hospital’s Paediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance unit, looked at 32 infants aged under six months admitted to Westmead from June to September 2009 with influenza.

Just over half were infected with H1N1-09, 28% experienced one or more complications, including 16% who were admitted to the paediatric intensive care unit, one who required mechanical ventilation and 22% who developed pneumonia.

Only 14% of the mothers had been vaccinated against seasonal influenza, though not the H1N1 strain.

Senior author Professor Elizabeth Elliott said in a press release that the three main risk factors for the disease documented in the study were exposure to cigarette smoking, overcrowding and low rates of household vaccination against influenza.
“The biggest risk factor we documented was close contact with other [unvaccinated] young children in the household, contributing to 46% of cases," she said.