To determine the burden of febrile convulsions attributed to influenza like illness in a western country during ten influenza seasons.
Based on national Danish registries, we explored the association between influenza like illness (ILI) activity and weekly number of hospital admittances for febrile convulsions in time-series analyses. We included data on 59,870 admissions for febrile convulsions in children between three months and five years of age in the period 1995-2005.
There was a significant relation between ILI-activity and number of children admitted for febrile convulsions with a systematic increase in admissions to pediatric wards about one week before the national surveillance system detected the corresponding rise in ILI-activity. The yearly number of admissions attributable to ILI varied from 11 to 47% of admissions and was highest during influenza epidemics. This was in particular observed in seasons when a new strain of influenza A/H3N2 was circulating. During these epidemics, influenza contributed to 29-47% of admissions.
Influenza like illness is associated with a considerable burden of febrile convulsions in children, most pronounced in years with epidemics. As febrile convulsions are just one of many complications contributing to the burden of influenza in children, this should be taken into consideration when planning a vaccination strategy for preventing influenza-related morbidity in younger children.