Our goal was to determine predictors of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) among healthy newborns.
In this prospective birth cohort study, 298 healthy term newborns born in 2 large hospitals in the Netherlands were monitored throughout the first year of life. Parents kept daily logs and collected nose/throat swabs during respiratory tract infections. The primary outcome was RSV LRTI, which was defined on the basis of the combination of positive RSV polymerase chain reaction results and acute wheeze or moderate/severe cough.
Of the 298 children, 42 (14%) developed RSV LRTI. Independent predictors for RSV LRTI were day care attendance and/or siblings, high parental education level, birth weight of >4 kg, and birth in April to September. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve was 0.72 (95% confidence interval: 0.64–0.80). We derived a clinical prediction rule; possible scores ranged from 0 to 5 points. The absolute risk of RSV LRTI was 3% for children with scores of ≤2 (20% of all children) and 32% for children with all 4 factors (scores of 5; 8% of all children). Furthermore, 62% of the children with RSV LRTI experienced wheezing during the first year of life, compared with 36% of the children without RSV LRTI.
A simple clinical prediction rule identifies healthy newborns at risk of RSV LRTI. Physicians can differentiate between children with high and low risks of RSV LRTI and subsequently can target preventive and monitoring strategies toward children at high risk.