MONDAY, Sept. 20, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- Children made ill by the 2009 pandemic H1N1 swine flu virus suffered more seizures and other nervous system problems than those with seasonal flu, a new report reveals.
In the study, published in the September issue of the journal Annals of Neurology, researchers compared neurological complications in 303 children (younger than 19 years) who were hospitalized with H1N1 and 234 children hospitalized with seasonal flu.
Among the 303 youngsters with H1N1, 18 children -- most of whom had underlying nerve-related conditions -- experienced neurological complications. The most common neurologic symptoms were seizures (67 percent) and encephalopathy (50 percent), a brain disorder that can range from mild to serious and potentially fatal.
More than half of the children with seizures arrived at the hospital in a life-threatening state called status epilepticus, where seizure activity occurs continuously for more than five to 30 minutes, the University of Utah researchers explained.
Among the 234 children with seasonal flu, 16 experienced neurological complications, although the study authors noted that none had encephalopathy.
The children with H1N1 (also known as swine flu) were hospitalized between April 1, 2009 and Nov. 30, 2009, and the children with seasonal flu were hospitalized between July 1, 2004 and June 30, 2008.
"We found that more pediatric H1N1 patients had neurological deficits and required ongoing treatment with anti-epileptic medications upon discharge from the hospital," study author Dr. Josh Bonkowsky noted in a news release from the journal's publisher.
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about children and H1N1 swine flu.