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Virus Plus Allergen Equals Asthma Hospitalization

Odds of hospitalization 19 times higher in children exposed to both

FRIDAY, May 5 (HealthDay News) -- Children with asthma who have a viral infection and are highly exposed to a sensitizing allergen are nearly 20 times as likely to be hospitalized for acute asthma than other asthmatic children, according to a report in the May issue of Thorax.

Clare S. Murray, M.D., of the University of Manchester in Manchester, U.K., and colleagues matched 84 children, aged 3 to 17 years, who were hospitalized for acute asthma during a one-year period to children with stable asthma (no hospital admission) and children hospitalized for other conditions.

Overall, tests of nasal washings showed that 44 percent of acute asthmatics were infected with viruses compared to 18 percent of stable asthmatics and 17 percent of the other children. Seventy-six percent of acute asthmatics had been highly exposed to a sensitizing allergen, versus 48 percent of stable asthmatics and 28 percent of the other children. Children with acute asthma were less likely to use regular inhaled corticosteroid treatment than those with stable asthma (odds ratio, 0.2). The odds of hospital admission were 19.4 times higher in children exposed to both viruses and allergens.

"Natural virus infection and real-life allergen exposure in allergic asthmatic children increase the risk of hospital admission," the authors conclude. "Strategies for preventing exacerbations will need to address these factors."

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