Rhinovirus-positive Bronchiolitis Increases Use of Asthma Medication in Kids, Study Shows

Rhinovirus-positive Bronchiolitis Increases Use of Asthma Medication in Kids, Study Shows

A new study from Finland showed that children with rhinovirus-positive bronchiolitis used asthma controller medication more often than kids with respiratory syncytial virus. Understanding risk factors for asthma may aid in its prevention, or could help parents and physicians predict possible asthma treatments. The report, “Post-Bronchiolitis Use of Asthma Medication: A Prospective 1-Year Follow-Up Study, was published in the Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal.

Rhinovirus is the most frequent cause of the common cold. It can infect the upper and lower respiratory tracts, resulting in the annoying symptoms recognized by most people, including runny nose, headache, cough, and fever, among others. Syncytical virus is another common cause of infection in children that can occupy both the lungs and the respiratory tract. In fact, most kids have been infected with syncytical virus by the time they are 2 years old. Although symptoms of syncytical virus usually include those found in the common cold, the virus can cause more severe illness, particularly in premature infants or the elderly.

Eija Bergroth, M.D., from the department of pediatrics at Kuopio University Hospital, Finland, led the study. To understand possible causes of asthma medication use, Bergroth and co-workers studied 408 children between 2008 and 2010. The study participants were younger than 24 months when they were hospitalized in a pediatric or intensive care unit for bronchiolitis. A total of 365 kids completed the 12-month study. The investigators surveyed parents about the use of asthma medication one year after the child’s initial hospitalization.

A total of 86 percent of the children had a respiratory virus. Of these, 43 percent were infected with a respiratory syncytial virus, 32 percent with a rhinovirus, and 28 percent had other viruses.

Sixty-one percent of the kids who had been infected with a rhinovirus ended up using long-term asthma controller medication. In comparison, only 15 percent of the children who had respiratory syncytial virus and 36 percent of the children who had a different type of virus used long-term asthma medication.

In their research article, Bergroth and colleagues concluded, “Children hospitalized for rhinovirus-positive bronchiolitis used long-term asthma controller medication more often than those hospitalized for rhinovirus-negative bronchiolitis during the first year after hospitalization.”

The authors believe the study may help predict which children are more likely to develop asthma. Based on the results, it appears that syncytial virus is less likely to provoke asthma than rhinovirus, with other types of viruses falling somewhere in between.

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