Risk factors and disease severity in Australian infants aged under 6 months hospitalised with influenza 2011–2019

Paediatric Active Enhanced Disease Surveillance (PAEDS) and Influenza Complications Alert Network (FluCAN) Investigators, Jocelynne E. McRae, Christopher C. Blyth, Allen C. Cheng, Helen E. Quinn, Nicholas J. Wood, Kristine K. Macartney

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Aim: Infants aged <6 months are vulnerable to severe influenza disease and no vaccine is approved for use in this age group. We aimed to describe the epidemiology, risk factors associated with severe outcomes and management of influenza in Australian infants aged <6 months. Methods: Incident cases aged <6 months of laboratory-confirmed influenza were captured through two national active prospective sentinel hospital-based surveillance systems in Australia from 2011 to 2019, inclusive. Demographic and clinical features, disease risk factors and outcomes (intensive care unit (ICU) admission and length of stay) and oseltamivir use were analysed. The proportion of infant influenza hospitalisations and nosocomial cases among all hospitalisations were also reported. Results: Of 680 hospitalised infants aged <6 months, 57.9% were male and 14.5% were Indigenous Australian. Median age was 2.6 months, 19.2% were born premature and 19.0% had a comorbidity, excluding prematurity. Overall, 77.9% had influenza A. Nosocomial cases accounted for 7.8%. ICU admission occurred in 14.7% and oseltamivir was prescribed for 18.8%. Factors associated with ICU admission included age <1 month (adjusted odds ratio (aOR) 3.95, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.47–10.60), comorbidity (aOR 7.69, 95% CI: 4.04–14.64) and prematurity (aOR 2.60, 95% CI: 1.40–4.81). The proportion of infants with influenza among all infant hospitalisations ranged 1.0–2.6% in the 2019 influenza season. Conclusion: Infants aged <6 months, and particularly neonates, experience serious disease from influenza. This data underpins the need for preventative strategies such as maternal immunisation and continued investigation into the possibility of safe and efficacious vaccination prior to 6 months of age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)848-855
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Paediatrics and Child Health
Issue number5
Early online date20 Dec 2021
Publication statusPublished - May 2022


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