Burden of Respiratory Syncytial Virus in the European Union: estimation of RSV-associated hospitalizations in children under 5 years

J Infect Dis. 2023 Nov 28;228(11):1528-1538. doi: 10.1093/infdis/jiad188.


Background: No overall estimate of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV)-associated hospitalizations in children aged under 5 years has been published for the European Union (EU). We aimed to estimate the RSV hospitalization burden in children aged under 5 years in EU countries and Norway, by age group.

Methods: We collated national RSV-associated hospitalization estimates calculated using linear regression models via the RESCEU project for Denmark, England, Finland, Norway, the Netherlands, and Scotland, 2006-2018. Additional estimates were obtained from a systematic review. Using multiple imputation and nearest neighbor matching methods, we estimated overall RSV-associated hospitalizations and rates in the EU.

Results: Additional estimates for 2 countries (France and Spain) were found in the literature. In the EU, an average of 245 244 (95% confidence interval [CI], 224 688-265 799) yearly hospital admissions with a respiratory infection per year were associated with RSV in children aged under 5 years, with most cases occurring among children aged under 1 year (75%). Infants aged under 2 months represented the most affected group (71.6 per 1000 children; 95% CI, 66.6-76.6).

Conclusions: Our findings will help support decisions regarding prevention efforts and represent an important benchmark to understand changes in the RSV burden following the introduction of RSV immunization programs in Europe.

Keywords: Europe; burden of disease; hospitalization; modelling; respiratory hospitalization; respiratory syncytial virus.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • European Union
  • Hospitalization
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus Infections* / epidemiology
  • Respiratory Syncytial Virus, Human*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections*
  • Systematic Reviews as Topic