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Child Hospital ICU Admission Rates Similar for COVID-19 Flu

But more clinical symptoms reported at the time of diagnosis for children with COVID-19 versus flu

Girl in hospital bed

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 9, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Among children with COVID-19 or seasonal influenza, there are no differences in hospitalization rates, intensive care unit (ICU) admission rates, or mechanical ventilator use, but children with COVID-19 have more clinical symptoms, according to a study published online Sept. 8 in JAMA Network Open.

Xiaoyan Song, Ph.D., from the Children's National Hospital in Washington, D.C., and colleagues describe the similarities and differences in clinical features between COVID-19 and seasonal influenza in a retrospective cohort study. Data were included from 315 children diagnosed with COVID-19 between March 25 and May 15, 2020, and 1,402 children diagnosed with seasonal influenza between Oct. 1, 2019, and June 6, 2020.

The researchers observed similar rates of hospitalization (17 versus 21 percent), ICU admission (6 versus 7 percent), and mechanical ventilator use (3 versus 2 percent) for children with COVID-19 and those with seasonal influenza. Compared with those with influenza, significantly more children hospitalized with COVID-19 reported fever, diarrhea or vomiting, headache, body ache or myalgia, and chest pain. There was no statistically significant difference between patients hospitalized with COVID-19 versus influenza who reported cough and shortness of breath.

"As the COVID-19 pandemic continues and the 2020 to 2021 influenza season approaches, findings from our study may inform the prompt identification and treatment of children with a respiratory viral infection in health care facilities," the authors write.

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