Study looks at reducing flu complications in children with pre-existing illnesses

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GPs in Portsmouth are taking part in research looking into children who may get health complications this flu season.

And the University of Oxford is encouraging families in Portsmouth to take part in its Archie study.

It is looking for children with flu-like illness, who may be at greater risk of developing further complications, to take part.

Researchers are looking for youngsters with pre-existing medical conditions such as asthma, diabetes and cerebral palsy, flu who could face more serious complications.

The study, funded by the National Institute for Health Research, is working with a selection of GP surgeries and hospitals to see whether early antibiotic treatment may prevent these children from developing further complications.

Lead researcher Dr Kay Wang, a practising GP, said: ‘The flu virus seems to particularly predispose children to bacterial infections, which may make children with flu-like illness even more unwell.

‘We want to find out whether giving antibiotics early to those we already know are at greater risk of bacterial complications can prevent these from developing and help them recover more quickly.’

Recent research conducted by Dr Wang has shown children who were 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.

Dr Wang added: ‘If we find that early antibiotic treatment is effective this will help guide more accurate targeting of antibiotics in the community.

‘This year, fewer people have been consulting their doctors with flu-like illness. While this is great news for the NHS, it has made recruitment for our study rather challenging.’

The researchers are calling on parents of children with underlying medical conditions to consider taking part in the Archie study by contacting their nearest participating NHS site within the first five days of their child developing flu-like symptoms.

The children will be tested to see whether they have the influenza virus and given a five-day course of study medication. They 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.

In Portsmouth, sites taking part include Portsdown Group Practice, Cosham Park House, Cosham; Portsdown Group Practice, Somerstown and Portsdown Group Practice, Heyward Road Surgery, Southsea. Visit archiestudy.com to get involved.