Influenza and Oseltamivir Phosphate (Tamiflu®) in Infants: What You Need to Know
Maya Mortada, Patricia Neuenschwander, Sheiraz S. Tekko
Influenza is a highly contagious virus that causes an average of 20,000 hospitalizations a year in children under five years of age. As of March 30, 2013, the 2012-2013 flu season had seen 111 pediatric deaths, with 21 deaths in the 0- to 23-month-old range. Rates of influenza-associated hospitalization are substantially higher among infants and young children than among older children, and those under six months old are at the highest risk. Research shows that influenza vaccine is not as effective in children two years of age relative to adults, and the vaccine is not approved in infants younger than six months. Thus, preventing influenza and proper treatment are important for keeping this high-risk group safe from complications. With infants being highest at risk for complications and the extrapolation of efficacy and safety from the older population, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved the use of the antiviral oseltamivir phosphate (Tamiflu®) for treatment of uncomplicated influenza in patients two weeks and older. This young population is susceptible to the benefits as well as the risks of the drug. Health care providers must be aware of dosing, adverse reactions, and monitoring parameters to better treat and educate their patients.