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Expert Rev Anti Infect Ther. 2011 Sep;9(9):731-45. doi: 10.1586/eri.11.92.

Evidence for a causal relationship between respiratory syncytial virus infection and asthma.

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Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine, Department of Medicine, Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Center for Health Services Research, 6107 MCE, Nashville, TN 37232-8300, USA.


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infects all children early in life, is the most common cause of infant lower respiratory tract infections, and causes disease exacerbations in children with asthma. Episodes of lower respiratory tract infection in early life are associated with asthma development. Whether RSV infection early in life directly causes asthma or simply identifies infants who are genetically predisposed to develop subsequent wheezing is debatable. Recent studies suggest that these two explanations are not mutually exclusive, and are likely both important in asthma development. An open-label study of RSV immunoprophylaxis administered to preterm infants reduced recurrent wheezing by 50%. Clinical trials of infant RSV prevention, delay or severity reduction on the outcome of childhood asthma would confirm the causal relationship between RSV infection and asthma, and offer a primary prevention strategy.

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