Recurrent upper respiratory tract infections in early childhood: a newly defined clinical condition

Ital J Pediatr. 2024 Feb 16;50(1):30. doi: 10.1186/s13052-024-01600-5.


Background: Recurrent Upper Respiratory Tract Infections (R-URTIs) pose a significant challenge in pediatric healthcare, affecting both children and their families. This study aimed to investigate the prevalence, risk factors, and clinical implications of R-URTI in children aged 0-5 years.

Methods: This observational study involved a sample of 483 children aged 0-5 years, focusing on establishing a practical and dynamic definition of R-URTI. Family pediatricians prospectively collected socio-demographic information, medical history, and recorded the occurrence of URTI episodes. Children were followed from recruitment until March 2021, predating the COVID-19 outbreak.

Results: A substantial prevalence of R-URTIs was found, estimating it at 5-10% among this age group. To define R-URTI, a practical and dynamic criterion was proposed: children experiencing a minimum of four URTI episodes, each lasting four days or more, within a six-month period, with intervals of well-being in between.

Conclusions: The study highlighted that specific risk factors for R-URTI were elusive, suggesting that this condition may affect children regardless of their family or clinical history. Moreover, the study's stratification by age group and times of observation facilitated patient-specific clinical decision-making. The proposed definition may represent a valuable tool for clinicians in diagnosing and addressing R-URTI cases.

Publication types

  • Observational Study

MeSH terms

  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / diagnosis
  • Respiratory Tract Infections* / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors