H1N1 cases of the first 13 children at Johns Hopkins Children's Center have been analyzed by researchers, who found that serious complications developed rapidly and unpredictably, with great variations from patient to patient.
Even though none of these children died all of them needed attentive monitoring and quick treatment adjustments.
According to the study, 12 of the 13 very ill children were also suffering from other disorders like sickle cell disease, asthma and HIV, which opened them to risk all the more. Complications ranged from kidney failure to acute respiratory distress syndrome, dangerously low oxygen levels and dangerously low blood pressure.
It was seen that rapid screening tests were initially negative in 8 of the 13 children, emphasising the need for better and more sensitive tests.
Researchers are now advising the prompt administration of antiviral medication to all critically ill children with flu-like symptoms even if the tests are negative.
Lead researcher Justin Lockman, a pediatric critical-care specialist at Johns Hopkins Children's, said: "Our most surprising, and perhaps most important finding, is that the H1N1 virus behaves unpredictably and variably from one patient to the other and even within the same patient from day to day, so we must be on our toes and react fast by adjusting therapy."
Senior investigator David Nichols, professor of anesthesiology/critical care and pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, added: "Our analysis did reveal some interesting patterns and trends, but it also showed us how much more we have to learn about the behavior of this new and intriguing virus."
The study has appeared online on Dec. 31 in the journal Pediatric Critical Care Medicine.