Sudden and fulminant deaths of healthy children in Italy during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons: results of an online study


  • Stefano Prandoni
    family pediatrician, Italy |


The 2009 pandemic in Italy has been viewed as a false alarm, and it has not been properly understood based on historical precedents and more in-depth studies that have been conducted in other countries. Some of these studies have pointed to a phenomenon of sudden and fulminant death among healthy children, which is not the sole prerogative of pandemic influenza, but was, in 2009, a more frequent occurrence than in previous years. The purpose of this study is to gather such cases occurring during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons. Google Search was used in order to find cases of children and teens with no reported preexisting conditions of relevance and who died suddenly and unexpectedly after exhibiting flu-like symptoms during the two seasons. During the 2010-11 season, 29 deaths were found to meet the above conditions, 18 of which were fulminant and 11 sudden. For the 2011-12 season, there were ten such cases: five fulminant and five sudden. Most of these cases occurred during the period of maximum circulation of the flu virus. Fulminant deaths were three times more frequent during the first of these seasons and involved children of a higher average age than the more recent season. It is not possible to come to any definite conclusions, but there is reason to suspect that the driver of this significant increase may be the A(H1N1)pdm09 virus. Regardless of how one wishes to interpret these results, it is advisable that the surveillance systems be strengthened and more recent study techniques be adopted in order to determine the causes of similar deaths in the future.


children, A(H1N1)pdm09 subtype, influenza, sudden death, fulminant death, myocarditis