According to UK researchers, prematurely born infants hospitalized for bronchopulmonary dysplasia due to respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection continue to show poor lung function in later years.

Dr. Anne Greenough of King’s College London and team investigated 147 children who were born after less than 32 weeks gestation and admitted to a neonatal care unit after developing bronchopulmonary dysplasia. They evaluated the respiratory- and health-related quality of life and the costs and utilization of health care. The children assessed were all between the ages of 5 and 10 years old.

In 5 to 7 years old children who had been hospitalized for RSV infection during their first 2 years, 25 had significantly greater costs of care, particularly as outpatients, than did their premature counterparts who were not hospitalized or who were hospitalized for a non-respiratory illness.

At the age of 8 to 10 years, out of 77 children who underwent lung function testing and bronchial challenge, 14 who had been hospitalized for RSV showed significantly poorer lung function as well as findings indicative of reduced airway caliber.

Healthcare use decreased with increasing age in all of the groups, regardless of RSV hospitalization.

Based on the results, the researchers suggest further studies, among them one that should include a randomized trial to assess whether RSV preventive therapy reduced healthcare utilization at follow-up.