Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection is an important cause of viral respiratory tract infection in children. In contrast to other confirmed risk factors that predispose to a higher morbidity and mortality, the particular risk of a preexisting neuromuscular impairment (NMI) in hospitalized children with RSV infection has not been prospectively studied in a multicenter trial.
Methods: The DMS RSV Paed database was designed for the prospective multicenter documentation and analysis of all clinically relevant aspects of the management of inpatients with RSV infection. Patients with clinically relevant NMI were identified according to the specific comments of the attending physicians and compared with those without NMI.
Results: This study covers 6 consecutive seasons; the surveillance took place in 14 pediatric hospitals in Germany from 1999 to 2005. In total, 1568 RSV infections were prospectively documented in 1541 pediatric patients. Of these, 73 (4.7%) patients displayed a clinically relevant NMI; 41 (56%) NMI patients had at least 1 additional risk factor for a severe course of the infection (multiple risk factors in some patients; prematurity in 30, congenital heart disease in 19, chronic lung disease 6 and immunodeficiency in 8). Median age at diagnosis was higher in NMI patients (14 vs. 5 months); NMI patients had a greater risk of seizures (15.1% vs. 1.6%), and a higher proportion in the NMI group had to be mechanically ventilated (9.6% vs. 1.9%). Eventually, the attributable mortality was significantly higher in the NMI group (5.5% vs. 0.2%; P < 0.001 for all). Multivariate logistic regression confirmed that NMI was independently associated with pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) admission (OR, 4.94; 95% CI, 2.69–8.94; P < 0.001] and mechanical ventilation (OR, 3.85; 95% CI, 1.28–10.22; P = 0.017).
Conclusion: This is the first prospective multicenter study confirming the hypothesis that children with clinically relevant NMI face an increased risk for severe RSV-disease. It seems reasonable to include NMI as a cofactor into the decision algorithm of passive immunization.