How does exposure to respiratory virus in infancy relate to the incidence and severity of childhood asthma?

Updated: Jan 07, 2019
  • Author: Michael J Morris, MD, FACP, FCCP; Chief Editor: Zab Mosenifar, MD, FACP, FCCP  more...
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Answer

Evidence suggests that rhinovirus illness during infancy is a significant risk factor for the development of wheezing in preschool children and a frequent trigger of wheezing illnesses in children with asthma. [16] Human rhinovirus C (HRVC) is a newly identified genotype of HRV found in patients with respiratory tract infections. A study of children with acute asthma who presented to the emergency department found HRVC present in the majority of patients. The presence of HRVC was also associated with more severe asthma. [17]

Approximately 80-85% of childhood asthma episodes are associated with prior viral exposure. Prior childhood pneumonia due to infection by respiratory syncytial virus, Mycoplasma pneumoniae, and/or Chlamydia species was found in more than 50% of a small sample of children aged 7-9 years who later had asthma. [18] Treatment with antibiotics appropriate for these organisms improves the clinical signs and symptoms of asthma.


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