Public Health

When Flu Hits, Kids With Neurological Problems Are Vulnerable

People wait in line at the Durham County Health Department for the H1N1 flu vaccination in Durham, N.C., in November 2009. i i

hide captionPeople wait in line at the Durham County Health Department for the H1N1 flu vaccination in Durham, N.C., in November 2009.

Gerry Broome/AP
People wait in line at the Durham County Health Department for the H1N1 flu vaccination in Durham, N.C., in November 2009.

People wait in line at the Durham County Health Department for the H1N1 flu vaccination in Durham, N.C., in November 2009.

Gerry Broome/AP

Flu is most deadly for children with neurologic problems and disorders, an analysis of swine flu fatalities finds.

The results come from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention researchers who looked at childhood fatalities during the H1N1 flu pandemic of 2009, when there were five times the usual number of deaths.

In all, 43 percent of the deaths occurred in children who had neurologic diseases, such as cerebral palsy and epilepsy, or developmental disorders.

These children often have trouble with muscle function that can affect breathing, swallowing and coughing. They can't clear secretions from their airways as well, which leaves them vulnerable to pneumonia.

Only about 1 in 4 children with neurologic problems who died in 2009 had been vaccinated against seasonal flu. Only 3 percent were protected against the pandemic strain.

The results were just published by the journal Pediatrics.

The CDC urges parents of such children to make sure they're vaccinated against the flu this season.

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