High risk for RSV bronchiolitis in late preterms and selected infants affected by rare disorders: a dilemma of specific prevention
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Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the most frequent aetiologic agent that causes bronchiolitis and lower respiratory tract infection in infants. These infections may be severe and even life-threatening in selected high-risk populations. Traditional, well-established, high-risk populations are preterm infants with or without chronic lung disease and children with congenital heart disease. For these children, RSV prophylaxis using palivizumab, a monoclonal anti-RSV humanised antibody against the F-protein of RSV, has proven safe and efficacious in preventing RSV-related hospitalisation. Recently, a number of rare medical conditions have been associated with the risk of severe RSV infections. Evidence of safety and efficacy of RSV prophylaxis in these populations is lacking. Given the low incidence of these conditions, randomised trials are not feasible. A practical, opinion-based approach to this dilemma is offered in this paper. It is proposed that these rare disorders may qualify for RSV prophylaxis if the association between a specific condition and the risk of severe RSV infection is confirmed in at least 3 independent publications, of which at least 1 includes a prospective cohort study. To facilitate pharmaco-economic analyses, at least one of the three studies must also report on the absolute risk of severe RSV infection in the specified illness. The authors believe that qualification criteria will enable caregivers to target RSV prophylaxis more effectively in children with rare conditions and the proposed approach provides direction for future epidemiological studies on the risk of severe RSV infection in children with these uncommon, medical illnesses.
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