Respiratory syncytial virus hospitalization and mortality: Systematic review and meta-analysis

Pediatr Pulmonol. 2017 Apr;52(4):556-569. doi: 10.1002/ppul.23570. Epub 2016 Oct 14.


Background: Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major public health burden worldwide. We aimed to review the current literature on the incidence and mortality of severe RSV in children globally.

Methods: Systematic literature review and meta-analysis of published data from 2000 onwards, reporting on burden of acute respiratory infection (ARI) due to RSV in children. Main outcomes were hospitalization for severe RSV-ARI and death.

Results: Five thousand two hundred and seventy-four references were identified. Fifty-five studies were included from 32 countries. The global RSV-ARI hospitalization estimates, reported per 1,000 children per year (95% Credible Interval (CrI), were 4.37 (2.98, 6.42) among children <5 years, 19.19 (15.04, 24.48) among children <1 year, 20.01 (9.65, 41.31) among children <6 months and 63.85 (37.52, 109.70) among premature children <1 year. The RSV-ARI global case-fatality estimates, reported per 1,000 children, (95% Crl) were 6.21 (2.64, 13.73) among children <5 years, 6.60 (1.85, 16.93) for children <1 year, and 1.04 (0.17, 12.06) among preterm children <1 year.

Conclusions: A substantial proportion of RSV-associated morbidity occurs in the first year of life, especially in children born prematurely. These data affirm the importance of RSV disease in the causation of hospitalization and as a significant contributor to pediatric mortality and further demonstrate gestational age as a critical determinant of disease severity. An important limitation of case-fatality ratios is the absence of individual patient characteristics of non-surviving patients. Moreover, case-fatality ratios cannot be translated to population-based mortality. Pediatr Pulmonol. 2017;52:556-569. © 2016 The Authors. Pediatric Pulmonology. Published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Keywords: burden; epidemiology; infant; morbidity; preterm.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Health Services
  • Child, Preschool
  • Global Health
  • Hospitalization / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections / mortality
  • Respiratory Syncytial Viruses / isolation & purification