Antivirals 'may not prevent flu complications'

Taking antiviral drugs may not prevent complications in children with seasonal flu, a UK study has found.

But the researchers, led by Dr Matthew Thompson from the University of Oxford, say that the findings do not necessarily mean that antivirals should not be used in the current swine flu pandemic.

Instead, they suggest that a more conservative strategy of prescribing might be considered prudent.

For this latest study, the researchers carried out a meta-analysis involving four trials on the treatment of flu in 1,766 children and three studies on the use of antivirals to limit the spread of flu.

While the analysis found that antivirals shorten the duration of flu in children by up to a day and a half, it also showed that they had little or no effect on asthma flare-ups, increased ear infections or the likelihood of children needing antibiotics.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

BMJ Online 2009

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