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Neurology. 2012 Oct 2;79(14):1474-81. doi: 10.1212/WNL.0b013e31826d5ea7. Epub 2012 Sep 19.

Neurologic complications of influenza A(H1N1)pdm09: surveillance in 6 pediatric hospitals.

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National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance of Vaccine Preventable Diseases, Sydney, Australia.



We sought to determine the range and extent of neurologic complications due to pandemic influenza A (H1N1) 2009 infection (pH1N1'09) in children hospitalized with influenza.


Active hospital-based surveillance in 6 Australian tertiary pediatric referral centers between June 1 and September 30, 2009, for children aged <15 years with laboratory-confirmed pH1N1'09.


A total of 506 children with pH1N1'09 were hospitalized, of whom 49 (9.7%) had neurologic complications; median age 4.8 years (range 0.5-12.6 years) compared with 3.7 years (0.01-14.9 years) in those without complications. Approximately one-half (55.1%) of the children with neurologic complications had preexisting medical conditions, and 42.8% had preexisting neurologic conditions. On presentation, only 36.7% had the triad of cough, fever, and coryza/runny nose, whereas 38.7% had only 1 or no respiratory symptoms. Seizure was the most common neurologic complication (7.5%). Others included encephalitis/encephalopathy (1.4%), confusion/disorientation (1.0%), loss of consciousness (1.0%), and paralysis/Guillain-Barré syndrome (0.4%). A total of 30.6% needed intensive care unit (ICU) admission, 24.5% required mechanical ventilation, and 2 (4.1%) died. The mean length of stay in hospital was 6.5 days (median 3 days) and mean ICU stay was 4.4 days (median 1.5 days).


Neurologic complications are relatively common among children admitted with influenza, and can be life-threatening. The lack of specific treatment for influenza-related neurologic complications underlines the importance of early diagnosis, use of antivirals, and universal influenza vaccination in children. Clinicians should consider influenza in children with neurologic symptoms even with a paucity of respiratory symptoms.

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