A new study, published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, examines the role of human rhinoviruses (HRV) in infant respiratory illness and assesses the virus’ role as a cause of bronchiolitis and upper respiratory infection (URI) in previously healthy term infants.

The researchers analyzed clinical data and biological samples from the Tennessee Children’s Respiratory Initiative study of 630 infants and their biological mothers. The babies were age 12 months or less and had been enrolled at the time of an unscheduled outpatient, emergency department visit, or hospitalization for either bronchiolitis or URI in the fall-spring seasons of 4 years.

Of the 630 infants, 162, or 26%, tested positive for HRV. In addition, HRV was associated with 18% of cases of bronchiolitis and 47% of URI cases.

The study finds that HRV appears to be a frequent cause in infant respiratory illness in previously health babies. Maternal allergic sensitization heightened the risk of more severe HRV illness. The researchers suspect that an underlying susceptibility for severe HRV illness is strongly linked with a susceptibility for asthma.

Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology