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Pediatrics. 2010 Aug;126(2):285-90. doi: 10.1542/peds.2009-2189. Epub 2010 Jul 12.

Duration of illness in infants with bronchiolitis evaluated in the emergency department.

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  • 1Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Medical College of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.



To describe the duration of illness in infants with first-time bronchiolitis who present to an emergency department (ED) and assess the burden of the illness on caregivers and families.


This was a prospective cohort study of infants younger than 12 months who presented to a tertiary care children's hospital ED with a first episode of bronchiolitis. Subjects were excluded if they had a history of bronchodilator use or immunocompromise. Demographic and clinical data were collected in the ED. Outcomes data were collected by weekly telephone interviews for 4 weeks or until the subject was free of cough for 24 hours.


Ninety-five infants were enrolled from November 2007 to March 2008. Median duration of symptoms was 15 days; 25% of the infants remained symptomatic after 21 days. Subjects with a history of eczema trended toward a longer median duration of symptoms when compared with those who did not (18 days [interquartile range (IQR): 15.5-24] and 15 days [IQR: 11-19], respectively; P = .055). Duration of symptoms did not significantly vary with regards to respiratory syncytial virus status or secondhand smoke exposure. Subjects missed a median of 2.5 days (IQR: 0.5-5.5) of day care, and caregivers missed a median of 2 days (IQR: 1-4) of work. Of these infants, 37.1% (95% confidence interval: 24.3-44.1) had a subsequent unscheduled medical visit.


Infants seen in the ED for bronchiolitis have a prolonged disease course, with substantial burden to the family. Symptom duration may be influenced by a propensity toward atopy. Clinicians may use this information for counseling families.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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