Rhinovirus infections in infancy and early childhood

Eur Respir J. 2013 Feb;41(2):443-52. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00203511. Epub 2012 Jun 27.


Rhinovirus (RV) infections occur early and recurrently in life, imposing a significant burden of disease on infants and young children. They are the most frequent causative agents of both upper and lower respiratory tract infections in this age group and are associated with a broad variety of clinical outcomes, ranging from asymptomatic infections to severe respiratory disease requiring hospitalisation. In addition to their impact on short-term morbidity, RVs are also debated as important pathogens in the development of recurrent wheeze and/or asthma. Several studies in infants at high-risk for atopy and asthma and in hospitalised children have demonstrated that recurrent wheezing illnesses induced by RVs early in life are a risk factor for the development of asthma later in childhood. However, underlying mechanisms are poorly understood. The question whether RVs are directly involved in the development of childhood wheeze and asthma, or whether symptomatic RV infections only represent a proxy for infants prone to develop obstructive lung diseases, is still open. In this review we provide an overview on the role of RVs as important disease-causing agents from infancy to early childhood and discuss their contribution to the subsequent development of childhood wheeze and/or asthma.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Asthma / complications
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / virology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Inflammation
  • Male
  • Picornaviridae Infections / complications
  • Picornaviridae Infections / diagnosis*
  • Picornaviridae Infections / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Sounds
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / complications
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / diagnosis*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / virology
  • Risk Factors