Researchers from The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough are appealing for families of children born prematurely, or with conditions such as asthma, diabetes, Down’s syndrome and cerebral palsy, to take part in a national study.
For most children, flu is a mild and relatively short illness. However, children with pre-existing medical conditions, or those born prematurely, may develop more serious complications from flu such as ear infections and pneumonia.
James Cook is participating in the University of Oxford’s ARCHIE study, which is looking at whether early antibiotic treatment may prevent these ‘at risk’ children from becoming more unwell when they get flu. The research is funded by the National Institute of Health Research.
Dr Arshid Murad, consultant paediatrician at James Cook said: “Recent research conducted by Oxford University researchers shows that children born prematurely are around twice as likely to be admitted to hospital after developing flu or flu-like illness. The research also found that children with neurological conditions and diabetes were at greater risk of developing flu-related complications.
“We are trying to find treatment measures which can prevent children developing flu-related complications. The ARCHIE study could be the first step to achieve this goal.”
The research team is appealing to parents of children with underlying medical conditions to consider participating in the ARCHIE study.
Children will have a nasal swab taken to see whether they have the influenza virus and given a five-day course of study medication. Children may also have further optional tests to look at whether using antibiotics in this way may have implications for their effectiveness in treating future infections.
Parents can contact the hospital research team on 01642 854869 or 01642 854092 for further information. More details about the study and a list of participating hospitals and GP surgeries can be found at archiestudy.com