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Friday, 23 July 2004

RSV Bronchiolitis and the link to Asthma

Doctors at Sydney Children's Hospital, Randwick are beginning a new trial to test the close link between respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) bronchiolitis and asthma.

Every year more than 200 children are brought to the Hospital with RSV bronchiolitis. The vast majority are babies who may spend up to a week in hospital. It has been recently recognised that many of these babies have recurrent episodes of wheezing. The virus damages the lining of the airways and appears to make them overly sensitive for quite some time, in some cases even years after the initial illness.

'We now know that at least 40% of these children will develop asthma in the first two to three years of their life and this appears to have a direct relationship with this common infection. This is an association that has only recently been recognised and is a most important finding, helping to explain the high prevalence of asthma', said Dr John Morton, Head of Respiratory Medicine, Sydney Children's Hospital, and Randwick.

A trial will shortly begin at the Hospital using a non-steroid based anti-inflammatory agent. The medication will be given once a day to babies who have had a recent bronchiolitis episode in an attempt to prevent asthma developing.

'If RSV bronchiolitis is a major precursor of the development of asthma then its more adequate treatment may be extremely important in arresting the increase in asthma in children', said Dr Morton.

For Further Information Contact:

Amy McIntosh, Public Affairs Officer Tel: 9382 3578 - Mob: 0411 730 842

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