Objective: To document, over two consecutive respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) seasons, the occurrence of acute otitis media (AOM) and recurrence of respiratory distress in children < 2 years of age hospitalized for respiratory distress.
Methods: Patients were examined during hospitalization and at 6 weeks and 6 months after discharge. RSV testing was performed on all patients, and hospitalized patients were evaluated daily for the occurrence of AOM.
Results: In total, 347 children were enrolled; 54.8% were RSV positive, and 45.2% were RSV negative. Children were most frequently diagnosed as having bronchiolitis (71.9%) or asthmatic bronchitis (17.9%); other diagnoses included pneumonia, laryngitis, and rhinitis. During hospitalization, AOM was diagnosed in 16.8% of RSV-positive versus 8.3% of RSV-negative children (P < 0.05). Six weeks after discharge, AOM was reported in 10.4% of RSV-positive as compared with 5.8% of RSV-negative patients. Six months later, AOM was reported in 2.9% of the RSV-positive and 7.6% of the RSV-negative patients. A second episode of acute respiratory distress, which either required (9) or did not require (35) hospitalization, occurred in 18.4% of the total population, with similar proportions of RSV-positive and RSV-negative children (17% versus 18.6%).
Conclusion: We conclude that RSV appears to be an important contributing factor for the occurrence of AOM in young children hospitalized with respiratory distress. The occurrence of a second episode of acute respiratory distress did not appear to correlate with the previous RSV infection, but longer-term follow-up is required.