Kids With Disabilities Among Flu Season’s Most Vulnerable

Another flu season is fast approaching, and there’s a new caution for certain people with disabilities — children with disabilities, in particular.

Federal health officials are using a study of the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak to caution the public that children with intellectual disability, cerebral palsy and other neurologic disorders are at much greater risk of complications from the flu.

“In a study looking at the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that a disproportionately high number of kids with neurologic disorders died as compared to other children,” according to “What’s more, of those conditions, the most frequently cited were intellectual disability, cerebral palsy and other neurodevelopmental disorders, researchers reported in the journal Pediatrics.”

Children younger than 5, but especially children younger than 2 years old, are at higher risk as it is, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Read’s story here.

According to the CDC’s website, people with “neurological and neurodevelopmental conditions, including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability (mental retardation), moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury” are at higher risk for developing flu-related complications, some which occasionally can result in death.

Perhaps you don’t fall in any of those categories. That doesn’t mean you’re not vulnerable.

Check to see if one of the following categories applies to you. The CDC website says these categories also are at higher risk for developing flu-related complications:

  • Adults 65 years of age and older.
  • Pregnant women.
  • American Indians and Alaskan Natives
  • People with asthma.
  • People with chronic lung disease, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cystic fibrosis.
  • People with heart disease, such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease.
  • People with blood disorders, ssuch as sickle cell disease.
  • People with endocrine disorders, such as diabetes mellitus.
  • People with kidney disorders.
  • People with liver disorders.
  • People with metabolic disorders, such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders.
  • People with weakened immune system because of disease or medication, including people with cancer, HIV or AIDS, or those on chronic steroids.
  • People younger than 19 years of age who are receiving long-term aspirin therapy.
  • People who are morbidly obese (Body Mass Index, or BMI, of 40 or greater).

“Most people who get the flu will have mild illness, will not need medical care or antiviral drugs, and will recover in less than two weeks,” the CDC website states. “Some people, however, are more likely to get flu complications that result in being hospitalized and occasionally result in death. Pneumonia, bronchitis, sinus infections and ear infections are examples of flu-related complications. The flu also can make chronic health problems worse.”

According to the CDC, the coming season’s flu vaccine will protect against the three influenza viruses that research indicates will be most common during the season: an influenza A (H1N1) virus, an influenza A (H3N2) virus, and an influenza B virus.

Check with your physician or local health department for more information about the flu and flu vaccination.