Treating flu-stricken children with anti-viral medication including Tamiflu and Relenza could do more harm than good, a new report has warned.
Researchers from the University of Oxford found that while the anti-virals reduced the duration of illness by up to one day and a half, they had “little or no effect” on the likelihood of the children developing complications. The researchers conceded that they didn’t know the extent to which their report applied to the current swine flu pandemic, but said, “based on current evidence, the effects of anti-virals on reducing the course of illness or preventing complications might be limited.” In compiling their report, published in the British Medical Journal, the Oxford University researchers searched the world for trials of Tamiflu and Relenza on children under 12. They found seven in total; four relating to flu treatment, and three to prevention. They say none offered a big enough study to determine whether anti-virals have any effect on the chances of children developing serious flu-related complications.
Fake Tamiflu outspams Viagra on Web
Study: Tamiflu causes nausea and nightmares in children
“We’ve got very little data to go on. These drugs have been used on tens of thousands, in fact millions of children worldwide, and we’ve found only four trials of treatments involving less than two thousand children,” said the report’s author, Dr Matthew Thompson, a senior clinical scientist at the Department of Primary Health Care, the University of Oxford. “We didn’t find any trials of children under one. And none of the trials was big enough to show if there’s any effect on serious complications like pneumonia or being hospitalized,” he said. The report found that while anti-virals reduced the duration of flu in children, they had little or no impact on the likelihood of the child developing ear infections or any other condition that may require antibiotics. A review of one study into the effect of anti-virals on asthmatic children, who are considered to have a higher risk of developing complications from the flu virus, found that they did not reduce the risk of the asthma attacks. The report said that one in 20 children who take Tamiflu suffer nausea and vomiting, as indicated in warnings from the drug’s manufacturer. “That obviously can be a particular problem in young children and infants where getting dehydrated is a complication of influenza,” Thompson said.
Each month CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta brings viewers health stories from around the world.
See more from the show »