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Preschool respiratory hospital admissions following infant bronchiolitis: a birth cohort study

06 Mar 2019

Background

Bronchiolitis causes significant infant morbidity worldwide from hospital admissions. However, studies quantifying the subsequent respiratory burden in children under 5 years are lacking.

Objective

To estimate the risk of subsequent respiratory hospital admissions in children under 5 years in England following bronchiolitis admission in infancy.

Design

Retrospective population-based birth cohort study.

Setting

Public hospitals in England.

Patients

We constructed a birth cohort of 613 377 infants born between 1 April 2007 and 31 March 2008, followed up until aged 5 years by linking Hospital Episode Statistics admissions data.

Methods

We compared the risk of respiratory hospital admission due to asthma, wheezing and lower and upper respiratory tract infections (LRTI and URTI) in infants who had been admitted for bronchiolitis with those who had not, using Cox proportional hazard regression. We adjusted hazard ratios (HR) for known respiratory illness risk factors including living in deprived households, being born preterm or with a comorbid condition.

Results

We identified 16 288/613 377 infants (2.7%) with at least one admission for bronchiolitis. Of these, 21.7% had a further respiratory hospital admission by age 5 years compared with 8% without a previous bronchiolitis admission (HR (adjusted) 2.82, 95% CI 2.72 to 2.92). The association was greatest for asthma (HR (adjusted) 4.35, 95% CI 4.00 to 4.73) and wheezing admissions (HR (adjusted) 5.02, 95% CI 4.64 to 5.44), but were also significant for URTI and LRTI admissions.

Conclusions

Hospital admission for bronchiolitis in infancy is associated with a threefold to fivefold risk of subsequent respiratory hospital admissions from asthma, wheezing and respiratory infections. One in five infants with bronchiolitis hospital admissions will have a subsequent respiratory hospital admission by age 5 years.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Archives of Disease in Childhood