Common Viral Infection Increases Asthma Risk

A viral respiratory infection common in children increases the risk of developing asthma, according to a study, the first to show a link between respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), infection and asthma in mice. A related study, also in mice, suggests that a medication neutralizing the virus could decrease children's chances of developing asthma.

Researchers have long suspected a connection between asthma and RSV, the leading cause of viral respiratory infections in infants and children worldwide, but there was no scientific proof to link the two until now. Most babies get over the infection, but some develop severe wheezing and other permanent asthma-like symptoms.

Half of all babies get an RSV infection within the first year of their life and by age 3 practically all have had at least one infection. About 10 percent of high-risk and young infants with RSV infections will develop severe bronchitis and require hospitalization.

EurekAlert June 28, 2004

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