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Having an older sibling poses risk of serious flu for babies and toddlers

Children under two years are more likely to be admitted to hospital with influenza if they have an older sister or brother, according to research published in the European Respiratory Journal.

Children under two years are more likely to be admitted to hospital with influenza if they have an older sister or brother, according to research published in the European Respiratory Journal


Getting older siblings vaccinated against influenza will increase protection for younger children.
Picture: Alamy

Researchers behind the study say babies and young children can be better protected if parents take up the opportunity to get older siblings vaccinated.

The study looked at 400,000 children born in Scotland between October 2007 and April 2015.

Researchers used anonymised hospital admissions and laboratory data to find out which children had a record of a positive laboratory test result for flu and compared this with other routinely collected information, such as month of birth, whether they were premature or had other health conditions, and whether the children had older siblings.

The results revealed children under six months old with older siblings were more than twice as likely to be admitted to hospital with flu than children who did not have older siblings.

The risk was also higher for babies born between July and December, who would be very young at the start of the flu season. Rare chronic conditions, such as congenital heart disease or chronic lung disease, also raised the risk of hospitalisation, but only a minority of children who had been hospitalised had these conditions.

In 2013, the UK began to introduce a new flu vaccination for children aged between two and 16 years. The researchers say this vaccine could also have an important effect on babies and younger children.


Hardelid P et al (2017). Risk factors for admission to hospital with laboratory-confirmed influenza in young children: birth cohort study. European Respiratory Journal. doi: 10.1183/13993003.00489-2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

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