Date: 19 Jul 2014

Viral lower respiratory tract infections and preterm infants’ healthcare utilisation

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The aim of this study was to determine whether respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) and other viral lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI) in prematurely born infants were associated with similar effects on healthcare utilisation and related cost of care in the second compared to the first year after birth. Thirteen infants who had RSV LRTIs (RSV), 21 who had other viral LRTIs (other viral) and 25 had no viral LRTIs (no LRTI) were prospectively followed. Nasopharyngeal aspirates were collected whenever an infant had an LRTI regardless of whether it was in the hospital or in the community. Healthcare utilisation and the health-related cost of care were determined. Only the RSV group compared to the no LRTI group had higher overall respiratory costs in both year 1 (mean, £3,917 versus £24; p < 0.041) and year 2 (mean, £1,164 versus £61; p = 0.012). Only the RSV group required respiratory admissions; the RSV admission rate in year 2 was 3.4 % (number needed to treat 59). Conclusion: RSV LRTIs are associated with increased healthcare utilisation and cost of care in the first and second year; nevertheless, if prophylaxis is to be cost-effective in the second year, a high risk group needs to be identified.

Communicated by Patrick Van Reempts