Background: Recent studies have suggested that rhinovirus-associated early wheezing is a greater risk factor for development of recurrent wheezing in children than is early wheezing associated with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). We determined the development of recurrent wheezing in young children within 3 years after hospitalization for RSV or non-RSV bronchiolitis.
Methods: We identified retrospectively all children <2 years of age who were admitted to Turku University Hospital because of bronchiolitis in the months of August-December during 1988-2001. The primary outcome was recurrent wheezing that required long-term asthma medication. Data on asthma medications of the individual children were derived from the Social Insurance Institution of Finland.
Results: Within the first year after hospitalization, 36 of 217 (16.6%) children with non-RSV bronchiolitis developed recurrent wheezing, compared with five of 199 (2.5%) children with RSV bronchiolitis [relative risk (RR) 6.6; 95% confidence interval (CI) 2.6-16.5]. The rates of recurrent wheezing were significantly increased in the non-RSV group also within 2 years (RR 2.9; 95% CI 1.7-5.1) and 3 years (RR 3.4; 95% CI 2.0-5.7) after hospitalization. The increased risk of recurrent wheezing in children with non-RSV-associated bronchiolitis was observed both in boys and girls at all time points of the 3-year follow-up, and it was not explained by the age difference between the RSV and non-RSV groups or any confounding seasonal factors.
Conclusion: Children hospitalized with bronchiolitis caused by other viruses than RSV develop recurrent wheezing at substantially higher rates during a 3-year follow-up period than do children with RSV-induced bronchiolitis.