Kids with neurological disorders may be more likely to die during flu season

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(CBS/AP) Federal health officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning that kids with neurological disorders face a high risk of death if they get the flu.

A study by CDC scientists looked at more than 300 influenza-related deaths in children during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. It found 60 percent had an underlying condition, and two-thirds of those kids had a neurologic disorder such as cerebral palsy, intellectual disability, or epilepsy.

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The CDC's Dr. Georgina Peacock, a pediatrician and coauthor of the study, says flu is especially dangerous for kids who have problems with "muscle function, lung function or difficulty coughing, swallowing or clearing fluids from their airways."

"These problems are sometimes experienced by children with neurologic disorders," added Peacock in a CDC press release.

Seventy-five percent of children with a neurologic condition who died from the 2009 pandemic also had an additional high risk condition that increased their risk for influenza complications, such as a pulmonary disorder, metabolic disorder, heart disease or a chromosomal abnormality.

With this year's flu season about to begin, the CDC is joining the American Academy of Pediatrics, Families Fighting Flu and Family Voices to stress the importance of flu vaccine for these children who are most vulnerable to influenza.

"Partnering with the American Academy of Pediatrics, influenza advocacy groups and family led-organizations CAN help prevent influenza in children at highest risk," CDC Director Dr. Thomas R. Frieden said in the press release.

The CDC has more on seasonal flu.