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Eur Respir J. 2002 Nov;20(5):1277-83.

RSV bronchiolitis and risk of wheeze and allergic sensitisation in the first year of life.

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Children's Hospital of the Ruhr University, Bochum, Germany.


Severe respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection has been hypothesised to be a risk factor for the development of allergy and asthma, but epidemiological studies in older children have been inconclusive. The current study hypothesises that the effect of RSV bronchiolitis might be most prominent during the first year after bronchiolitis. Forty-two infants had experienced RSV bronchiolitis severe enough to cause hospitalisation. For each child with RSV infection, two controls were acquired from a birth cohort and matched for date of birth and sex. All the children were followed prospectively and underwent a follow-up examination at a mean age of 1 yr, which included physical examination, and serum immunoglobulin (Ig) E tests for common food and inhaled allergens. Risk factors for the development of recurrent wheezing and IgE antibodies were analysed for the whole group of 126 children. A positive test for IgE antibodies was noted in 14 of 42 (33%) RSV children and in 2 of 84 (2.3%) children in the control group. RSV bronchiolitis was the most important risk factor for allergic sensitisation. Likewise, 13 children (15.5%) of the RSV group and three (3.6%) children of the control group suffered from recurrent wheezing, and RSV bronchiolitis posed a considerable risk for recurrent wheezing. Severe respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis during the first year of life is an important risk factor for the development of recurrent wheezing and sensitisation to common allergens during the subsequent year.

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