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October 2015

Influenza A Virus Infection, Innate Immunity, and Childhood

Author Affiliations
  • 1Department of Pediatrics, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
  • 2Division of Critical Care Medicine, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
  • 3Department of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
  • 4Jesse Brown Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois
JAMA Pediatr. 2015;169(10):956-963. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2015.1387

Infection with influenza A virus is responsible for considerable morbidity and mortality in children worldwide. While it is apparent that adequate activation of the innate immune system is essential for pathogen clearance and host survival, an excessive inflammatory response to infection is detrimental to the young host. A review of the literature indicates that innate immune responses change throughout childhood. Whether these changes are genetically programmed or triggered by environmental cues is unknown. The objectives of this review are to summarize the role of innate immunity in influenza A virus infection in the young child and to highlight possible differences between children and adults that may make children more susceptible to severe influenza A infection. A better understanding of age-related differences in innate immune signaling will be essential to improve care for this high-risk population.

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