Prevalence, Risk Factors, and Outcomes of Influenza-Associated Neurologic Complications in Children

James W. Antoon*, Matt Hall, Alison Herndon, David P. Johnson, Charlotte M. Brown, Whitney L. Browning, Todd A. Florin, Leigh M. Howard, Carlos G. Grijalva, Derek J. Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine the frequency of neurologic complications associated with influenza in hospitalized children. Stud design: We performed a cross-sectional study of children (2 months through 17 years of age) with influenza discharged from 49 children's hospitals in the Pediatric Health Information System during the influenza seasons of 2015-2020. Neurologic complications were defined as encephalopathy, encephalitis, aseptic meningitis, febrile seizure, nonfebrile seizure, brain abscess and bacterial meningitis, Reye syndrome, and cerebral infarction. We assessed length of stay (LOS), intensive care unit (ICU) admission, ICU LOS, 30-day hospital readmissions, deaths, and hospital costs associated with these events. Patient-level risk factors associated with neurologic complications were identified using multivariable logistic regression. Results: Of 29 676 children hospitalized with influenza, 2246 (7.6%) had a concurrent diagnosis of a neurologic complication; the most frequent were febrile seizures (5.0%), encephalopathy (1.7%), and nonfebrile seizures (1.2%). Hospital LOS, ICU admission, ICU LOS, deaths, and hospital costs were greater in children with neurologic complications compared with those without complications. Risk factors associated with neurologic complications included male sex (aOR 1.1, 95% CI 1.02-1.21), Asian race/ethnicity (aOR 1.7, 95% CI 1.4-2.1) (compared with non-Hispanic White), and the presence of a chronic neurologic condition (aOR 3.7, 95% CI 3.1-4.2). Conclusions: Neurologic complications are common in children hospitalized with influenza, especially among those with chronic neurologic conditions, and are associated with worse outcomes compared with children without neurologic complications. These findings emphasize the strategic importance of influenza immunization and treatment, especially in high-risk populations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)32-38.e5
Journaljournal of pediatrics
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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