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What parents need to know about swine flu

14 October 2009

Swine Flu - what parents need to know (2009) Jessica Kingsley Publishers.  £7.99

One of Britain's most eminent paediatricians has written a book on what parents need to know about swine flu.

Professor Terence Stephenson is the newly appointed Nuffield Professor of Child Health at UCL Institute of Child Health, and head of the General and Adolescent Paediatrics Unit, one of the Institute's eight research themes.

Professor Stephenson is also President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health and a member of the General Medical Council.  He holds honorary contracts in order to see patients at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and University College Hospital.

He said "I spent so much time answering questions from friends, relatives and the media about swine flu, that I decided to write the answers in a book. I approached the publishers who were fantastic in turning the concept around quickly. I wrote it in August at a friend's
house in France and delivered it on 26 August. I hope it will save me from taking so many calls and emails."

Swine/H1N1 Flu - what parents need to know', is his seventh book.

Professor Stephenson was until recently Professor of Paediatrics, and Dean, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, University of Nottingham. Among many appointments he was paediatric advisor to the National Patient Safety Agency 2003-2006.

  1. For most children swine flu is no more dangerous than seasonal flu - that is what all the evidence suggests. But there is an important caveat. Swine flu is caused by a novel H1N1 virus to which most people, especially the young, have no immunity. Up to 30 per cent of the world's population could be infected by it.
  2. If a virus affects this many people, then a lot of people will fall ill and sadly some may die although the risk to any one child is small and the best way to prevent that is to have all children vaccinated.
  3. Healthcare staff should be vaccinated against swine flu, not only for their own safety but also to protect their families and patients.  Paediatric staff have a particular responsibility to have the vaccine because it appears that very young patients are at more risk from flu.
  4. Face masks for the general public are not helpful: they are often not used properly and they are not changed sufficiently regularly to be protective.  They are useful for healthcare staff in healthcare settings.
  5. Professor Stephenson does recommend that people prescribed Tamiflu take it, ideally starting within 48 hours of the onset of flu symptoms.
  6. If children cannot swallow the capsules, the capsules can be broken open to give the child the Tamiflu powder they contain.  However, the powder is bitter and so he recommends mixing the powder with one or two teaspoons of undiluted concentrated blackcurrant juice (e.g. Ribena) or runny chocolate syrup to disguise the taste.

Contact information:

GOSH-ICH Press Office: 020 7239 3125
Email: Coxs@gosh.nhs.uk
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Notes to editors

Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children NHS Trust is the country’s leading centre for treating sick children, with the widest range of specialists under one roof.

With the UCL Institute of Child Health, we are the largest centre for paediatric research outside the US and play a key role in training children’s health specialists for the future.

Our charity needs to raise £50 million every year to help rebuild and refurbish Great Ormond Street Hospital, buy vital equipment and fund pioneering research. With your help we provide world class care to our very ill children and their families.