More than 100,000 children under the age of five died from respiratory infection caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) worldwide in 2019 alone. a respiratory condition caused by the pathogen in that same country. year.
The data comes from an article just published in The Lancet and aimed to estimate the number of RSV in 2019. In young children, this virus is recognized as the main cause of acute lower respiratory tract infections, formed by organs such as the lung. and the bronchi.
Other studies had already estimated the impact of RSV in children. One noted that in 2015 there were more than 118,000 deaths associated with the virus. Additionally, around 3.2 million children have been taken to hospitals with respiratory problems caused by the virus.
The new research continued these analyses, but focused on a year before the Covid-19 pandemic.
For the research, a review of several articles published in major scientific publication banks was carried out. Thus, the scientists conducted a systematization to assess only studies that reported cases of RSV-associated respiratory infection in children up to five years of age.
A total of 481 studies made up the research review. With the information compiled, it was possible to estimate the number of lower tract infections associated with RSV.
The main estimates relate to the number of cases (over 33 million), hospital admissions (average of 3.6 million) and deaths (just over 100,000) due to the respiratory infection caused by the virus in 2015.
However, the study also addressed some particularities. One of them concerned age groups. For example, babies up to six months of age accounted for around 45,000 deaths, almost half of the total number of recorded deaths.
It was also possible to measure some regional data. In this case, 95% of infections were in low- and middle-income countries. Deaths also had a very high percentage in these places – in total, 97% of them were recorded in these poorest regions.
The impact of the disease is great for the authors, the data observed by the research express the seriousness that the virus has for the health of children, especially those under the age of six months and residing in the poorest countries.
By comparing information on all-cause infant mortality, scientists have observed that the respiratory condition caused by RSV accounts for 1 in 50 deaths in children up to the age of five. In those who are up to six months old, the relationship is even more alarming, because 1 in 28 deaths would be associated with the virus.
Another aspect raised in the research is the fact that a large part of the deaths were not registered in the hospitals, a sign of not having a correct follow-up in the face of the disease.
It was estimated that only 26% of the total deaths occurred in medical centers. Again, the scenario is more critical for babies under six months old and living in poorer countries – in these cases, only 18% of deaths occurred in hospitals.
*Reporting by Samuel Fernandes