Prevalence and Risk Factors of Respiratory Syncytial Virus in Children under 5 Years of Age in the WHO European Region: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

J Pers Med. 2021 May 15;11(5):416. doi: 10.3390/jpm11050416.


A respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the major cause of respiratory tract infection in children under 5 years. However, RSV infection in the European Region of the World Health Organization has not been systematically reviewed. The aim was to determine the prevalence and factors associated with RSV in children under 5 years of age in European regions. A systematic review and meta-analysis was performed. CINAHL, Medline, LILACS, ProQuest, SciELO, and Scopus databases were consulted for studies published in the last 5 years, following Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analysis guidelines. The search equation was "respiratory syncytial virus AND (newborn OR infant OR child) AND (prevalence OR risk factors)". Studies reporting the prevalence of RSV were eligible for inclusion in the meta-analysis. A total of 20 articles were included. The meta-analytic prevalence estimation of RSV, with a sample of n = 16,115 children, was 46% (95% CI 34-59%). The main risk factors were age, male gender, winter season, and environmental factors such as cold temperatures, higher relative humidity, high concentrations of benzene, exposure to tobacco, and living in urban areas. Robust age-specific estimates of RSV infection in healthy children should be promoted in order to determine the optimal age for immunization. In addition, it is necessary to analyse in greater depth the potentially predictive factors of RSV infection, to be included in prevention strategies.

Keywords: children; epidemiology; meta-analysis; prevalence; respiratory syncytial virus; risk factors.