Life-Threatening Complications of Influenza vs Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in US Children.

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DOI: 10.1093/cid/ciac477; PMCID: PMC9384330


BACKGROUND: Clinical differences between critical illness from influenza infection vs coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have not been well characterized in pediatric patients.

METHODS: We compared demographics, clinical characteristics, and outcomes of US children (aged 8 months to 17 years) admitted to the intensive care or high-acuity unit with influenza or COVID-19. Using mixed-effects models, we assessed the odds of death or requiring life support for influenza vs COVID-19 after adjustment for age, sex, race and Hispanic origin, and underlying conditions including obesity.

RESULTS: Children with influenza (n = 179) were younger than those with COVID-19 (n = 381; median, 5.2 years vs 13.8 years), less likely to be non-Hispanic Black (14.5% vs 27.6%) or Hispanic (24.0% vs 36.2%), and less likely to have ≥1 underlying condition (66.4% vs 78.5%) or be obese (21.4% vs 42.2%), and a shorter hospital stay (median, 5 days vs 7 days). They were similarly likely to require invasive mechanical ventilation (both 30.2%), vasopressor support (19.6% and 19.9%), or extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (2.2% and 2.9%). Four children with influenza (2.2%) and 11 children with COVID-19 (2.9%) died. The odds of death or requiring life support in children with influenza vs COVID-19 were similar (adjusted odds ratio, 1.30; 95% confidence interval, .78-2.15; P = .32).

CONCLUSIONS: Despite differences in demographics and clinical characteristics of children with influenza or COVID-19, the frequency of life-threatening complications was similar. Our findings highlight the importance of implementing prevention measures to reduce transmission and disease severity of influenza and COVID-19.

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Clinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America





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MeSH Keywords

Humans; Child; COVID-19; Influenza, Human; SARS-CoV-2; Hospitalization; Respiration, Artificial; Obesity; Retrospective Studies


COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; children; influenza; intensive care units


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