India tops in childhood flu-linked pneumonia deaths

November 11th, 2011 - 9:44 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Nov 11 (IANS) About one in every four infants who die from flu-related pneumonia is an Indian, says new research by the University of Edinburgh published Friday.

The study was led by the varsity and involved 47 researchers from 14 countries. Data from high-income and developing countries was reviewed.

“India is the world leader for pneumonia mortality in under-five children contributing about a fourth of the global pneumonia deaths,” said the study’s leader Harish Nair of the varsity’s Centre for Population Health Sciences and the Public Health Foundation of India.

“We think that until the widespread implementation of an effective influenza vaccine is achievable, reliable provision of antibiotics and oxygen therapy will substantially reduce mortality associated with flu,” he added.

The estimates were based on influenza and pneumonia data from Ballabgarh in north Indian state of Haryana.

According to the study, annually, more than 3.7 lakh Indian children under the age of five die as a result of pneumonia and as many as seven percent of those die after contracting flu.

“90 million cases of seasonal flu occur in under-five children each year globally and 20 million of these are flu-related pneumonia resulting in 1 million hospital admissions,” said the study.

Although about 6,000 flu-related pneumonia deaths occur in hospitals, as many as three times this number could be occurring at home, researchers estimate.

The data used in the study suggests that the extent of the flu epidemic and associated pneumonia deaths could vary widely each year - within India and the rest of the world.

With vaccines being available for the common bacterial causes of childhood pneumonia, the bacterial pneumonia rates have started to decline, the study says.

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