Infectious Disease Control
RSV Prevention Phase II
Does preventing a common childhood infection in infancy reduce the risk of developing asthma in later childhood?
The Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) Prevention Phase II study will help determine if preventing RSV in infancy can reduce asthma in childhood. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the leading viral cause of lower respiratory tract infections, like bronchiolitis and pneumonia, in children worldwide. RSV infections generally occur in the fall, winter and spring. Most infants experience RSV infection during their first year of life and nearly all children do by the time they are two years old. In older children and young adults RSV usually only causes cold-like symptoms. In infants, especially those less than six months old, RSV infection can inflame the airways, sometimes requiring hospitalization. Ten percent of Native American infants in the southwest are hospitalized with RSV infections each year.
Does severe RSV lead to asthma?
Infants who experience severe RSV often continue to have breathing trouble and wheezing during the first few years of their life. Children who have severe RSV as babies are more likely to have asthma when they are older. Researchers have been working on vaccines to prevent RSV for more than 50 years, but none are available yet. From 2004-2010, the CAIH helped evaluate a different method of preventing disease—a monoclonal antibody called motavizumab. Monoclonal antibodies are similar to vaccines and can be given to newborns to protect them when they are at greatest risk of complications from RSV disease.
Motavizumab was evaluated in more than 2,000 healthy, full term infants, and it worked: it reduced RSV by 87% in the babies who received it. The infants who participated in this study are now between 10 and 14 years old. We are contacting families of these children and inviting them to participate in a brief follow-up study called RSV prevention phase II. With the consent of the parent or guardian, we are administering a questionnaire and reviewing medical records to determine which children have asthma now. Then, we’ll see if they were sick from RSV as infants. We hope to understand if preventing RSV in infancy could also reduce the proportion of older children with breathing difficulties such as asthma, a condition that affects an estimated 14% of children worldwide.