Acute respiratory infections (ARIs), such as bronchiolitis and pneumonia, are the leading cause of hospitalization of infants in the US. While the incidence and severity of ARI can vary widely among children, the reasons for these differences are not fully explained by traditional risk factors (e.g., prematurity, viral pathogens). The recent advent of molecular diagnostic techniques has revealed the presence of highly functional communities of microbes inhabiting the human body (i.e., microbiota) that appear to influence development of local and systemic immune response. We propose a 'risk and resilience' model in which airway microbiota are associated with an increased (risk microbiota) or decreased (resilience microbiota) incidence and severity of ARI in children. We also propose that modulating airway microbiota (e.g., from risk to resilience microbiota) during early childhood will optimize airway immunity and, thereby, decrease ARI incidence and severity in children.
Keywords: Haemophilus; Lactobacillaceae; Moraxella; acute respiratory infection; bronchiolitis; immune response; microbiome; microbiota; pneumonia; probiotics; virus.