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Children With Asthma Most Affected by Rhinovirus

ng or asthma had more than eight times as many rhinovirus-associated hospitalizations than those without such a history. Asthma was the only significant factor that distinguished children hospitalized with rhinoviruses from those with other viruses or no viruses. Of those hospitalized with a history of asthma or wheezing, rhinoviruses were found in 36 percent of children aged 0-2 years and in 48 percent of children aged 2-5 years. According to Miller, the finding that asthma was the only risk factor significantly associated with rhinovirus hospitalizations should indicate that "patients with asthma might be particularly good candidates for prevention and treatment strategies for rhinovirus infection."

As a next step to their study, Miller suggested, "additional studies over multiple years in multiple geographic regions are needed to more completely understand the role of rhinoviruses in hospitalizations in children. As discussed in our study, rhinoviruses are sometimes found in healthy children; thus, further studies are required to determine the actual rate of ‘carriage’ in healthy children as opposed to those who are sick or have had recent symptoms of illness. There should also be further investigation into the question, ‘Why are children with asthma disproportionately burdened by the "common cold" virus?’"

In an accompanying editorial, Ronald B. Turner, MD of the University of Virginia School of Medicine, noted the value of studies on rhinoviruses because of their frequency and huge cost to society. Turner echoed Miller’s sentiment, remarking that the study should stimulate future research into the medical implications of rhinoviruses.

Fast Facts

* Rhinoviruses cause at least half of all common colds.
* The study found 26 percent of the hospitalized children had rhinovirus infections—more than were infected with a virus previously thought to be the main cause of serious respiratory illness.

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