To describe the characteristics and clinical courses of asthmatic children hospitalized with seasonal or 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza and compare complications by influenza type.


During the 2003–2009 influenza seasons and the 2009 pandemic, we conducted surveillance of 5.3 million children aged 17 years or younger for hospitalization with laboratory-confirmed influenza and identified those with asthma (defined as those aged 2–17 years with a history of asthma in their medical record or a discharge code for acute asthma exacerbation or status asthmaticus). We collected data from medical records on medical history and clinical course; data on asthma severity and control were not routinely collected.


During the 2003–2009 influenza seasons, 701 (32%) of 2165 children hospitalized with influenza had asthma; during the 2009 pandemic, 733 (44%) of 1660 children had asthma. The median age of the asthmatic children was 7 years, and 73% had no additional medical conditions. Compared with asthmatic children with seasonal influenza, a higher proportion with 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza required intensive care (16% vs 22%; P = .01) and were diagnosed with pneumonia (40% vs 46%; P = .04), whereas equal proportions had respiratory failure (5% vs 5%; P = .8) and died (1% vs 1%; P = .4). More asthmatic children with influenza A (seasonal or pandemic) had diagnoses of asthma exacerbations compared with those with influenza B (51% vs 29%; P < .01).


The majority of asthmatic children hospitalized with influenza have no additional medical conditions. Complications such as pneumonia and need for intensive care occur in a substantial proportion, highlighting the importance of influenza prevention through vaccination among asthmatic children.

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