Flu Causes Tens of Thousands of Toddler Deaths Each Year

With cold and flu season just around the corner, it’s important for parents to know the potential dangers that face their children, especially if they are under the age of five. A newly released study has revealed that there were 90 million cases of influenza in children under the age of five in 2008. There were also 20 million cases of influenza-associated acute lower respiratory tract infection.

This study, headed by Dr. Harish Nair of the University of Edinburgh, is the first to try and calculate the number of deaths associated with the flu. Unfortunately, the numbers cannot be completely accurate because, according to the researchers, data collection can be difficult in developing countries and for children without health insurance.

Still, it was estimated that anywhere between 28,000 and 115,000 children under the age of five died from influenza-related health conditions. Of those deaths, 99 percent occurred in developing countries. Living in a developed country, however, doesn’t rule out the potential risk.

The point of the study, which was published in the British journal Lancet, was to bring attention to public health policies, developing strategies for distributing the flu vaccine and plans for offering treatment methods for flu-related illnesses in children that may not otherwise receive treatment, it also brings attention to parents that do have insurance and think that the flu is harmless.

It is important to remember that deaths with the flu are not from the virus itself. The deaths are caused by related health complications, such as bronchitis, pneumonia, dehydration and respiratory infections. Monitoring your child carefully, especially if they are under the age of five, is essential to a safe recovery for your child. If you feel that your child is getting worse, not better, you should take them to a doctor or the emergency room as soon as possible.

It is recommended that all children should also receive the flu vaccine. While the vaccine does not safeguard from all symptoms of the flu, it does help protect your child from the flu-related complications that most often cause death in youngsters. Some locations (like your local health department or WIC office) even offer free vaccines for those that qualify by income. Reduced rates are also offered for those that do not qualify for financial forgiveness.

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About the author


Kate Givans is a wife and a mother of five—four sons (one with autism) and a daughter. She’s an advocate for breastfeeding, women’s rights, against domestic violence, and equality for all. When not writing—be it creating her next romance novel or here on Growing Your Baby—Kate can be found discussing humanitarian issues, animal rights, eco-awareness, food, parenting, and her favorite books and shows on Twitter or Facebook. Laundry is the bane of her existence, but armed with a cup of coffee, she sometimes she gets it done.

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