child hospitalizedEarly hospital use of influenza antiviral medications was associated with a decrease in late-onset mechanical ventilation, according to new research out of Boston Children’s Hospital .

“These data suggest that early use of influenza antivirals among children hospitalized for the flu might decrease the frequency of respiratory failure occurring after hospitalization,” said Adrienne Randolph, MD, MSc. “This is important because respiratory failure is a strong risk factor for flu-related death and is associated with the significant costs and morbidity related to mechanical ventilation and intensive care.”

For the study, investigators compared diagnosis, treatment, and discharge data on more than 9,800 children hospitalized with a diagnosis of influenza during the 2009 pandemic against those of nearly 10,200 children hospitalized in total over the three previous flu seasons. The data was accessed from the Pediatric Health Information System (PHIS).

They found that about 70% of children hospitalized for the flu during the 2009 pandemic were prescribed antiviral medication, primarily Tamiflu, according to researchers. Only 19% of such children received antiviral treatment during the three previous flu seasons.

In looking at the risk factors for mechanical ventilation for both seasonal and pandemic flu, they discovered that children prescribed Tamiflu shortly after admission for the flu were much less likely than children who did not receive the antiviral to require a ventilator at day 3 or later of their hospital stay. The association held for children hospitalized for seasonal influenza and for those admitted during the 2009 pandemic.

The authors believe the results suggest that because these children received early antiviral treatment in the hospital, their flu infection was less likely to worsen to the point that their lungs started to fail.