Burden of seasonal influenza hospitalization in children, United States, 2003 to 2008

J Pediatr. 2010 Nov;157(5):808-14. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2010.05.012. Epub 2010 Jun 26.


Objectives: To estimate the rates of hospitalization with seasonal influenza in children aged <18 years from a large, diverse surveillance area during 2003 to 2008.

Study design: Through the Emerging Infections Program Network, population-based surveillance for laboratory-confirmed influenza was conducted in 10 states, including 5.3 million children. Hospitalized children were identified retrospectively; clinicians made influenza testing decisions. Data collected from the hospital record included demographics, medical history, and clinical course. Incidence rates were calculated with census data.

Results: The highest hospitalization rates occurred in children aged <6 months (seasonal range, 9-30/10 000 children), and the lowest rates occurred in children aged 5 to 17 years (0.3-0.8/10 000). Overall, 4015 children were hospitalized, 58% of whom were identified with rapid diagnostic tests alone. Forty percent of the children who were hospitalized had underlying medical conditions; asthma (18%), prematurity (15% of children aged <2 years), and developmental delay (7%) were the most common. Severe outcomes included intensive care unit admission (12%), respiratory failure (5%), bacterial coinfection (2%), and death (0.5%).

Conclusions: Influenza-associated hospitalization rates varied by season and age and likely underestimate true rates because many hospitalized children are not tested for influenza. The proportion of children with severe outcomes was substantial across seasons. Quantifying incidence of influenza hospitalization and severe outcomes is critical to defining disease burden.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Influenza, Human / epidemiology*
  • Influenza, Human / therapy
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Seasons
  • Time Factors
  • United States / epidemiology