Neurologic Complications in Children Hospitalized With Influenza Infections – ​​​​The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal

Influenza infection is a common cause of respiratory disease and hospitalization in children. Neurologic manifestations of the infection have been increasingly reported and may have an impact on the severity of the disease. The aim of this study is to describe neurologic events in pediatric patients hospitalized with influenza and identify associated risk factors.

Retrospective cohort study which included all hospitalized patients with microbiologic confirmation of influenza disease over 4 epidemic seasons, focusing on neurologic complications. Demographic, laboratory and clinical data, as well as past history, were recorded. Descriptive and analytic statistical study was performed using SPSS and R statistical software.

Two hundred forty-five patients were included. Median age was 21 months (interquartile range, 6–57) and 47.8% had a previous underlying condition. Oseltamivir was administered to 86% of patients, median hospitalization was 4 days (interquartile range, 3–6), and pediatric intensive care unit admission rate 8.9%. Twenty-nine patients (11.8%) developed neurologic events, febrile seizures being the most frequent, followed by nonfebrile seizures and encephalopathy. Status epilepticus occurred in 4 children, and 69.6% of seizures recurred. Patients with a previous underlying condition were at greater risk of developing a neurologic complication [odds ratio (OR), 4.55; confidence interval (CI), 95% 1.23–16.81). Male sex (OR, 3.21; CI 95%, 1.22–8.33), influenza B virus (OR, 2.82; CI 95%, 1.14–7.14) and neurologic events (OR, 3.34; CI 95%, 1.10–10.19) were found to be risk factors for pediatric intensive care unit admission.

A significant proportion of influenza-related hospitalized patients develop neurologic complications, especially seizures which may be prolonged or recurrent. Previous underlying conditions pose the greatest risk to neurologic events, which increase disease severity.