A Common Virus Can Trigger Asthma in Children

It's called R-S-V or respiratory syncytial virus

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Asthmatic child with nebulizer mask
Photo:Courtesy of Flickr CC by themohers
Dr Nick Bennett, CCMC Pediatric Dept. Infectious Disease
Photo:Photo by LN
A Common Virus Can Trigger Asthma in Children
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A Common Virus Can Trigger Asthma in Children

A new report on asthma finds the rate among Connecticut children rose more than seven percent between 2005 and 2010. The state health department says no one really knows what causes asthma. But WNPR's Lucy Nalpathanchil reports that a  common virus called RSV or respiratory syncytial virus may be a contributing factor.  

Most people think of the winter months as cold season but at Connecticut Childrens Medical Center, November thru March is also called  RSV season.
 
"RSV basically causes a cold. It's a very, very common virus. Half of all kids less than a year in age have had it and ninety percent  of kids less than two have had it at least once."
 
Dr Nick Bennett specializes in pediatric infectious diseases. He says with serious RSV infection, kids end up coughing a lot, they produce a lot of mucus and they have difficulty breathing. When it's this bad, they end up in the hospital.  
 
"I can tell you that the inpatient service right now is swamped with RSV. So is the ICU." 
 
Last winter, 130  kids with RSV under age one were hospitalized  at CCMC.
 
Bennett has studied RSV in high risk kids like premature babies. He says the medical community has long known there's an association between serious RSV and an asthma diagnosis later in life. But doctors can't say conclusively if RSV "alone" causes asthma.
 
"It may be this chicken and egg situation where the kids that would have been diagnosed later on with asthma are just the ones that are going to get bad RSV." 
 
Bennett says the kids to watch closely when suffering from a bad cold are the ones who have a family history of asthma or allergies.  
 
for WNPR I'm Lucy Nalpathanchil