The antiviral drugs Tamiflu and Relenza rarely prevent complications in children with seasonal flu, a finding that calls into question the policy of giving the drugs to youngsters with swine flu, say U.K. researchers.
The medicines are the main line of defense against swine flu until a vaccine becomes available, possibly in the fall.
"Our research is finding for most children these antiviral drugs are probably not going to have much of an effect," said study author Matthew Thompson of the University of Oxford, BBC News reported.
He and his colleagues reviewed previous studies and found that Tamiflu and Relenza can shorten the duration of seasonal flu in children by up to 1.5 days. However, the drugs have little or no effect on flu complications such as asthma flare-ups, ear infections, or the likelihood of young flu patients needing antibiotics. They also found that Tamiflu increases the risk of vomiting.
The study appears in the British Medical Journal.
The findings aren't surprising, flu expert Professor Hugh Pennington told BBC News. "Tamiflu has a place but it's not a wonder cure," he said.