Objective: To determine recent morbidity and mortality rates from respiratory syncytial virus infection in a pediatric congenital heart disease population.
Design: Retrospective cohort study design.
Setting: The C. S. Mott Children's Hospital, University of Michigan Medical Center.
Patients: A total of 740 pediatric patients hospitalized at the University of Michigan Medical Center for symptomatic respiratory syncytial virus infection, of whom, 79 patients had clinically important congenital heart disease.
Measurements and main results: We retrospectively examined the charts of 740 patients hospitalized at our children's hospital from July 1, 1983 to June 30, 1990 with symptomatic respiratory syncytial virus infection to assess morbidity and mortality outcomes. Seventy-nine patients had congenital heart disease and 40 of these patients had pulmonary hypertension. For the entire cohort and a subset of patients with community-acquired infection, those patients with congenital heart disease had longer durations of hospitalization and greater need for, and days of, both intensive care and mechanical ventilation than patients without congenital heart disease. Mortality risk for respiratory syncytial virus community-acquired infection was not different for congenital heart disease vs. noncongenital heart disease patients (0.0% vs. 0.2%; p = 1.00). When examining only patients with congenital heart disease, those patients with pulmonary hypertension had increased hospital days and greater intensive care and mechanical ventilation durations compared with patients without this diagnosis. The overall mortality rate was low and was equally low for congenital heart disease groups with or without pulmonary hypertension (2.5 vs. 2.6). For community-acquired illness, no mortality was found in either congenital heart disease group. When the cohort of congenital heart disease patients was divided into pre- and postribavirin administration eras, no differences in mean hospital duration, ICU days, and mechanical ventilation days were noted. Of the 79 congenital heart disease patients, only two died during their hospitalization in which respiratory syncytial virus infection occurred. Both patients had nosocomial-acquired respiratory syncytial virus and both were from the postribavirin administration cohort. One of these two patients had received antiviral therapy. Neither death was secondary to respiratory syncytial virus respiratory failure (based on pathologic examination).
Conclusions: We conclude that respiratory syncytial virus mortality risk in pediatric patients with congenital heart disease is less than the risk reported a decade ago. Respiratory syncytial virus infection in congenital heart disease patients with pulmonary hypertension is associated with increased morbidity but not increased mortality rates. The markedly decreased respiratory syncytial virus mortality risk in patients with congenital heart disease currently experienced is likely secondary to improvements in intensive care management and advances in the surgical correction in this population rather than antiviral therapy.