Protecting the Young From Pandemic Flu

Protecting Your Child From Swine Flu

Jacqueline Civitano is just one parent who is dealing firsthand with the specter of swine flu. Her 17-year-old son, Frankie is a student at St. Francis Preparatory School in Queens, the site of the first reported cases in New York City. He tested positive for the illness on Sunday.

Since then, she said, three of her other children and her daughter-in-law have also come down with the disease.

She said everyone in her family is recovering. But she said she was particularly concerned about her infected 10-year-old son, who also has diabetes.

"Yesterday we thought we were going to have to take him to the hospital because he couldn't eat or drink," she said Tuesday. "It's a little scary when you don't know what's going on and you hear all this stuff about people dying in Mexico. It's extremely frightening."

Fortunately, infectious disease experts noted, there are steps that families can take to protect children from the worst consequences of the disease.

Simple Steps Help Protect Kids From H1N1

Rutherford said Tamiflu, one of the two antiviral medicines said to be effective against swine flu, is approved for use in babies as young as 1 year old, and because of an emergency order from the government, the FDA has already said that doctors may use Tamiflu to treat babies even under 1 year of age.

Relenza, the other antiviral that has shown promise against swine flu, is approved for use in kids age 7 and up; that prescribing information has not been altered.

But perhaps the best defense for babies is to keep them away from possible infection through social distancing -- in short, making certain they do not come into contact with infected individuals.

Parents of younger children can also make sure that their kids follow established hygiene practices in order to lower their risk of infection. These include frequent and proper hand washing, as well as staying clear from friends and family members who are known to be infected.

The ABC News Medical Unit contributed to this report.

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