RSV prediction tool could more accurately identify high risk infants

Researchers from Nashville, Tenn.-based Vanderbilt University Medical Center presented data May 21 on an inaugural tool that may help predict newborns' risk for developing respiratory syncytial virus in their lower respiratory tract.

Seasonally, RSV can cause up to 80,000 hospitalizations among children under the age of 5 each year in the U.S., according to the CDC. 

An evaluation of the online prediction tool studied 429,365 infants — 713 of whom had been diagnosed with severe cases of RSV in their lower respiratory tracts, which landed them in the ICU — revealed that the tool showed "good predictive accuracy and internal validation" according to the news release.

The study was initially published in the Open Forum Infectious Disease journal in March, but presented May 21 at the American Thoracic Society's 2024 International Conference in San Diego.

"Our objective was to develop a personalized tool for use in all newborns using readily available birth and postnatal data to predict risk of RSV (lower respiratory tract infections) requiring ICU admission, useful for prioritizing RSV prevention products with limited availability," said Tina Hartert, MD, study author and professor of medicine and pediatrics at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Dr. Hartert noted that the new tool is not yet ready for use by other health systems, but will next be tested on other patient populations, evaluated for a cost-effectiveness and decision-curve analyses. 

However, once it is tested further, it could help some families overcome vaccine worries and hesitancy, she said.

"This tool may be particularly helpful in prioritizing which infants should be immunized during times of limited availability of RSV prevention medicines," Dr. Hartert said. "Using the tool to identify if their infant is at high risk for RSV infection requiring ICU care may also persuade vaccine-hesitant families to accept RSV immunoprophylaxis, by showing them their newborn is at high risk."

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