Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)-induced lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) is associated with the subsequent development of recurrent wheeze. In a recent study, we found a high incidence (9.9%) of hospitalization for RSV-induced LRTI among children with Down syndrome (DS), indicating DS as a new risk factor for RSV-induced LRTI. In the current study we aimed to investigate the development of long-term airway morbidity in children with DS after hospitalization for RSV-induced LRTI.
Methods: A combined retrospective cohort and prospective birth cohort of children with DS with a history of hospitalization for RSV-induced LRTI was studied (n = 53). Three control populations were included: children with DS without hospitalization for RSV-induced LRTI (n = 110), children without DS but with hospitalization for RSV-induced LRTI (n = 48), and healthy siblings of the previous 3 groups mentioned (n = 49). The primary outcome was physician-diagnosed wheeze up to 2 years of age.
Results: The incidence of physician-diagnosed recurrent wheeze in children with DS with a history of hospitalization for RSV-induced LRTI was 36%. Unexpectedly, up to 30% of children with DS without a history of RSV-induced LRTI had physician-diagnosed recurrent wheeze (no significant difference). In children without DS physician-diagnosed wheeze was found more frequently in children hospitalized for RSV-induced LRTI than healthy controls (31% vs. 8%, P = 0.004).
Conclusions: In this combined retrospective/prospective cohort study RSV-induced LRTI did not significantly contribute to the risk of recurrent wheeze in children with DS. An unexpected finding was that recurrent wheeze was very common among children with DS.