Are Early Lower Respiratory Tract Infections Linked to the Development of Sleep Apnoea in Children? - European Medical Journal

Are Early Lower Respiratory Tract Infections Linked to the Development of Sleep Apnoea in Children?

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A NOVEL study has identified that a history of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and early lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) in early infancy is linked to the development of obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) in children. The researchers from Children’s National Hospital, Washington, USA, have identified the pathophysiological connection between RSV LRTI and the OSA in the paediatric population.  

Various previous studies had initially identified the role early LRTIs in the initiation of respiratory conditions in children. However, the interrelation between the development of OSA following early LRTIs had not been identified until now. The study revealed that children who had previous record of severe RSV bronchiolitis during the early stages of life had a significant two-fold increase rate of developing OSA in the first 5 years of life compared to children who were not exposed to LRTIs.  

Childhood health is significantly affected by OSA, and these findings bring about the possibility of the new interventions and strategies that could be used to identify and prevent the primary causes of this condition ensuing viral respiratory infections in children. However, more research is required to determine how the LRTIs affect the airway function in order to gain further insight on the progression of OSA in the paediatric population.  

The results suggest that RSV LRTI may contribute to the pathophysiology of OSA in children, raising concern for the possibility that primary prevention strategies can hinder the initial establishment of OSA following early viral LRTIs,” said Gustavo Nino, Director of Sleep Medicine at Children’s National Hospital. “Primary prevention of OSA in children would have a dramatic effect in reducing the increasing incidence of this condition and in preventing its detrimental effects on childhood health and beyond.” 

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