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Study: RSV Common in U.S. Children

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

RSV, a highly contagious respiratory virus, is far more common in U.S. children than once thought and puts more of them in the hospital than flu, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center in New York projected that RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) affects 2.1 million children under the age of five each year.

Over the course of four years, from November through April, researchers say the virus was responsible for 20 percent of pediatric hospitalizations, 18 percent of emergency room visits and 15 percent of office visits in children under age five in three U.S. counties.

“This causes hospitalization in children three times as often as influenza,” said Dr. Caroline Breese Hall. She also said the findings show that researchers should place more emphasis on finding a vaccine for RSV.

Until recently, most of the concern around the virus was for newborns, up to one year of age and children with high-risk medical conditions. Dr. Hall’s team reported in the New England Journal of Medicine that only three percent of the RSV cases were correctly diagnosed and that most of the RSV patients were older than one year.

“These kiddies are not the young babies on which we’ve focused, but they are older and are quite severely ill. Seventy three percent have had some kind of difficulty in breathing. That’s significant,” she said.

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