Healthy infants face significant risk of RSV hospitalization: a study

Healthy infants face significant risk of RSV hospitalization: a study

Healthy infants face significant risk of RSV hospitalization: a study

Diane Macdonald | Stockbyte | Getty Images

Even healthy infants face a significant risk of hospitalization from respiratory syncytial virus, according to a major European study published Thursday.

Dutch and British scientists, in a study published in Lancet Respiratory Medicine, found that 1.8% of healthy infants were hospitalized with RSV before their first birthday. This means that about 1 in 56 healthy infants are hospitalized with the virus each year.

dr. Louis Bont, one of the authors of the study, emphasized that the incidence of RSV hospitalization in healthy infants was about twice as high as the researchers had expected.

The scientists found that most of the infants hospitalized with RSV were younger than 3 months. About 1 in 18 infants hospitalized with RSV required intensive care unit treatment.

RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually results in mild symptoms similar to the common cold. But for infants younger than 6 months, it can cause lung infections that result in hospitalization and in some cases require assisted breathing.

Healthy infants face significant risk of RSV hospitalization: a study

Scientists followed more than 9,000 healthy newborns until at least their first birthday at five sites in Spain, Finland, England, Scotland and the Netherlands.

They found that of 145 healthy babies hospitalized with RSV, eight required intensive care unit treatment, about 5%, and three required mechanical ventilation, or 2%.

Bont said the findings underscore the importance of bringing vaccines to market that can significantly reduce the amount of disease in infants and reduce pressure on pediatric hospitals.

The European Medicines Agency this month approved an antibody called nirsevimab, developed by AstraZeneca and Sanofi, to prevent lower respiratory tract disease caused by RSV in newborns and infants.

Pfizer is developing a single-dose vaccine given to pregnant women to protect their newborns from severe disease caused by RSV. Clinical trials showed that the injection was about 81% effective in preventing severe lower respiratory tract illnesses in the first 90 days of a baby’s life.

Pfizer plans to submit an application to the Food and Drug Administration by the end of 2022 for approval of the vaccine in the US

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the US is experiencing a significant increase in RSV cases among children in nearly all regions of the country. About 77% of pediatric hospital beds are occupied due to the rise in RSV and flu, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

The CDC encourages parents to seek immediate medical attention for their children if they show any of the following warning signs: difficulty breathing, bluish lips or face, chest or muscle pain, dehydration (dry mouth, crying without tears, or not urinating for hours). or restlessness or inactivity when awake.

Symptoms of RSV include a runny nose, loss of appetite, and a cough that may progress to wheezing. Infants almost always show symptoms, but for babies younger than 6 months, those symptoms can be more subtle, according to the CDC. RSV does not always cause a fever.

Irritability, decreased activity and appetite, as well as pauses in breathing, are all signs that an infant may have RSV, according to the CDC.

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