Children with Asthma at Greater Risk from H1N1

(November 24, 2009)

Parents Advised to Get Children Vaccinated and Watch for Signs of Illness

Children with asthma are at greater risk to develop serious symptoms from H1N1 (swine) flu than from seasonal flu, according to a new study.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) a new Canadian study found that children hospitalized with H1N1 were more likely to have asthma (22%) compared to children hospitalized with seasonal flu (6%). However, severity of asthma did not seem to affect risk for H1N1.

Children with asthma are among the high-risk groups the CDC has recommended be top priority to receive the H1N1 vaccine.  Vaccination is the best protection against both H1N1 and seasonal influenza, and parents and caregivers of children with asthma are recommended to have their children vaccinated.  To find out where to get an H1N1 or seasonal flu vaccination, visit www.flucliniclocator.org or contact your local department of health.

Parents of children with asthma should monitor their child's health closely for signs of influenza.  Symptoms of influenza include:

  • Sudden onset of high fever
  • Headache, muscle aches and joint pain
  • Cough (usually dry)
  • Chills
  • Sore throat
  • Nasal congestion and runny nose

If your child experiences these symptoms—or exhibits signs of worsening asthma—contact your health care provider immediately.  If a child with asthma does become sick with the flu, they should continue taking their normal medications, unless recommended otherwise by their healthcare provider.   

Remember these tips to protect your health and prevent spread of the flu: 

  • Get vaccinated for both the seasonal flu and H1N1 flu.
  • Remember to cover your nose and mouth with your arm when you cough or sneeze.
  • FREQUENTLY WASH YOUR HANDS WITH SOAP AND WATER.
  • ALCOHOL-BASED HAND CLEANERS ARE EFFECTIVE WHEN WASHING IS NOT POSSIBLE.
  • Avoid large crowds if possible. Ask family and friends to be mindful of your higher risk and not expose you to their sickness if they are ill.
  • The CDC recommends staying home if you have flu like symptoms for seven days or until you are clear of symptoms for 24 hours.  
  • Always watch for public health advisories, as these recommendations may change.