RSV Causes High Morbidity Among Children

Respiratory syncytial virus leads to high rates of hospitalization, regardless of health risk

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 4 (HealthDay News)-- Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a substantial cause of morbidity among U.S. children, affecting not just high-risk but also previously healthy children, according to a study published in the Feb. 5 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Caroline Breese Hall, M.D., of the University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry in Rochester, N.Y., and colleagues conducted a prospective population-based study of 5,067 children under 5 years of age. Children were either hospitalized or presenting as outpatients in emergency departments or pediatric offices.

Of the population, 18 percent of children were infected with RSV during the study period. The average annual hospitalization rate was 17 per 1,000 children less than 6 months of age and three per 1,000 children less than 5 years of age. RSV infections occurred mostly in children who were previously healthy or had no coexisting illness. During winter months (November through April), RSV was associated with 20 percent of hospitalizations, 18 percent of emergency department visits and 15 percent of office visits for acute respiratory infections.

"On the basis of our findings, we estimate that among children under the age of 5 years, RSV infection results in approximately 1 of 334 hospitalizations, 1 of 38 visits to an emergency department, and 1 of 13 visits to a primary care office each year in the United States," the authors conclude.

Several of the study authors report financial relationships with the pharmaceutical industry.

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