Looking into the hospitalization burden of RSV

June 24, 2020
Miranda Hester

Ms. Hester is Content Specialist with Contemporary OB/GYN and Contemporary Pediatrics.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major cause of hospitalized acute respiratory illness in young children. An investigation looks at the hospitalization burden due to RSV.

Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) can often cause hospitalized acute respiratory illness (ARI) in young children. An investigation into the RSV hospitalization burden in the United States was published in Pediatrics.1

Investigators used children aged <5 years who were hospitalized ARI at 7 US pediatric hospitals. Parent interviews and medical records were used to provide clinical information. Each site used molecular diagnostic assays to test midturbinate nasal and throat flocked swabs for RSV.

There were 2969 children included in the analyses. In this cohort, 1043 children tested positive for RSV. Eighty-seven percent of children who tested positive for RSV were aged <2 years and 50% were age <6 months. Researchers found that RSV-linked hospitalization 2.9 per 1000 children aged <5 years and 14.7 per 1000 children aged <6 months. Overall, the highest age-specific rate was seen in children aged 1 month, 25.1 per 1000 child. Among the children with RSV, 67% did not have a history of preterm birth or underlying comorbid conditions.

Investigators concluded that one-third of ARI hospitalizations were linked to RSV in the cohort. Because most children who were RSV-positive have no history of comorbidities or preterm birth, they say that it’s likely that all children might be helped by targeted interventions for RSV.


1. Rha B, Curns A, Lively J et al. Respiratory syncytial virus–associated hospitalizations among young children: 2015–2016. Pediatrics. 2020;145(6):e20193611. doi:10.1542/peds.2019-3611