Why common respiratory viruses cause more severe illness in kids

Respiratory infections caused by respiratory syncytial virus, enterovirus and other common viruses tend to cause more severe disease among children in part because of their small airways. 

Across the U.S., children sick with respiratory diseases are filling up children's hospitals and crowding emergency rooms at unprecedented levels. The CDC in September said hospitals across several regions had reported increases in the number of children hospitalized with severe respiratory illness in August. 

"The reason for more severe illnesses with some of these viruses is the smaller airways in kids," Ibukun Kalu, MD, pediatric infectious disease specialist at Durham, N.C.-based Duke Children's Hospital, told NPR in an Oct. 11 report. "Because the viruses get in there and cause such a high amount of inflammation, they are unable to clear out a lot of these secretions or get air in." 

With children's hospitals already struggling to keep beds open, physicians have expressed concern over how much the situation could worsen amid growing signs the nation will face a COVID-19 surge this winter. 

Copyright © 2024 Becker's Healthcare. All Rights Reserved. Privacy Policy. Cookie Policy. Linking and Reprinting Policy.


Featured Whitepapers

Featured Webinars