According to a sizable European study released on Thursday, respiratory syncytial virus poses a significant risk of hospitalisation for even healthy infants.
According to a study by Dutch and British researchers that was published in the journal Lancet Respiratory Medicine, 1.8% of healthy infants are hospitalised with RSV before turning one. According to this, 1 in 56 healthy infants are admitted to the hospital each year due to the virus.
The prevalence of RSV hospitalisation in healthy newborns was roughly twice as high as the researchers had anticipated, according to Dr. Louis Bont, one of the study’s authors.
The majority of newborns hospitalised with RSV were under three months old, the researchers discovered. One in every eighteen babies hospitalised with RSV needed intensive care.
Common respiratory viruses like RSV typically cause mild symptoms resembling the common cold. However, it can induce lung infections in babies under 6 months old, which may necessitate hospitalisation and, in some circumstances, mechanical ventilation.
The researchers monitored more than 9,000 healthy babies at five locations in Spain, Finland, England, Scotland, and the Netherlands until at least their first birthday.
They discovered that 145 of the healthy infants had RSV and had been hospitalised. Of these, eight (or approximately 5%) needed treatment in the intensive care unit, and three (or about 2%) required mechanical breathing.
The results, according to Bont, emphasise the significance of developing vaccines that can considerably reduce newborn illness rates and ease the burden on paediatric hospitals.
This month, the European Medicines Agency authorised nirsevimab, an antibody created by AstraZeneca and Sanofi to protect babies and young children from RSV-caused lower respiratory tract disease.
Pfizer is creating a single-dose vaccination for pregnant women to give to their unborn children to protect them from the severe illness caused by RSV. During the first 90 days of a baby’s life, clinical trials revealed that the shot was roughly 81% effective in avoiding severe lower respiratory tract diseases.
By the end of 2022, Pfizer intends to submit an application to the Food and Drug Administration for the vaccine’s approval in the United States.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there has been a marked rise in RSV cases among children across practically the whole nation. As cases of RSV and the flu rise, records from the Health and Human Services Department show that approximately 77% of paediatric hospital beds are filled.
The CDC advises parents to take their children to the hospital right away if they exhibit any of the following warning signs: difficulty breathing, blue lips or face, chest pain, muscle pain, dehydration (dry mouth, sobbing without tears, or hours without urinating), or lack of alertness or interaction when awake.
Runny nose, loss of appetite, and a cough that can develop into wheezing are RSV symptoms. Infants almost usually exhibit symptoms, though the CDC notes that in infants under 6 months old, these symptoms may be less obvious. A fever is not usually the effect of RSV.
The CDC lists irritability, decreased activity and appetite, as well as pauses when breathing, as symptoms of RSV in infants.