Flu Facts: Can Having an Older Sibling Increase a Baby’s’ Risk of Severe Flu?

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Flu in Infants: Does an Older Sibling Increase Your Baby's Risk?

Having an older sibling often means having to share everything from toys to clothes — and maybe even dangerous viruses. According to new research, having older brothers and sisters greatly increases the risk of flu in infants, leaving them more than more vulnerable than only children to be hospitalized with flu.

The recent Scottish study found that, compared with first born kids, children under six months who had one older sibling were twice as likely to be admitted for the flu. For those with two or more older siblings, the risk tripled. Lead author of the study Dr. Pia Hardelid, from UCL’s Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, explained in a press release, “Children are very effective spreaders of respiratory viruses like flu. Our study suggests that older siblings pose a risk of serious infection for their baby sisters and brothers.”

Every year, millions of children get sick with the flu — thousands of children are hospitalized and some kids even die from flu. The virus is especially dangerous since babies are at a higher risk for serious flu-related complications, like pneumonia and seizures — making it important to know the facts on how to protect against flu in infants.

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