RSV: Risk of Complications
With respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections, there is an increased risk of having complications, especially in certain babies and young children and in adults older than 65.
Babies and young children
- Babies younger than 6 months, especially those born early.
- Children who have existing heart or lung disease.
Conditions that put babies and young children at higher risk for problems include:
- Congenital heart disease.
- Chronic lung disease (bronchopulmonary dysplasia) and cystic fibrosis.
- An impaired immune system, which can involve various health factors. For example, having a severe chronic illness, such as cancer, can affect the immune system. And certain medicines, such as chemotherapy or steroids, suppress the immune system.
- Exposure to tobacco smoke.
If your young child has a health condition, your doctor may recommend medicine to help prevent problems from RSV.
Adults older than 65 have an increased risk for complications following infection with RSV. Pneumonia from an RSV infection is a particular risk for people in this age group, especially if they have other diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart failure.
Other complications older adults may develop as a result of RSV infection include bronchiolitis and respiratory failure. Older adults may also recover more slowly from RSV and complications than people in other age groups do.
Other Works Consulted
- Committee on Infectious Diseases, American Academy of Pediatrics (2009). Modified recommendations for use of palivizumab for prevention of respiratory syncytial virus infections. Pediatrics, 124(6): 1694–1701.
Primary Medical Reviewer Susan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical Reviewer John Pope, MD - Pediatrics
Current as ofSeptember 9, 2014
To learn more, visit Healthwise.org