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Underlying Conditions in Kids Increase Risks From Swine Flu

More than 30 children have died; most had neurodevelopmental or other high risk condition

THURSDAY, Sept. 3 (HealthDay News) -- At least 36 children younger than 18 years of age are among the nearly 500 Americans who have died of complications from H1N1 swine flu, according to a new government report in the Sept. 4 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discussed the report at a Sept. 3 news conference. They said that 67 percent of the children who died had at least one high-risk condition, such as neurodevelopmental disability, heart or lung disease. In addition, bacterial infections have contributed to an increased risk of death in children with swine flu who may be otherwise healthy.

The CDC officials emphasized that pediatric death rates and complications from swine flu are very similar to those seen with seasonal influenza each year. However, death rates in children with swine flu have been higher in those older than 5 years, whereas children age 5 years and younger typically have higher death rates from seasonal influenza.

"Each year, there are 50 to 100 deaths from influenza among children in this country," CDC director, Thomas R. Frieden, M.D., said during the afternoon news conference. "These [swine flu] findings are not unexpected. It's what we see with seasonal flu. But only time will tell what will happen in the fall and winter."

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