Hospital admission for an acute respiratory infection in the first year of life is the strongest predictor of readmission after the age of three, Australian research shows.
The findings suggest that focusing prevention efforts on early infection could have significant public health benefits, said the authors from the Telethon Kids Institute in Western Australia.
The population based study of 145, 580 children from Western Australia found that hospitalisation for an acute respiratory infection (ARI) in the first year of life was associated with a 3-fold increased risk of a respiratory hospitalisation after the age of 3.
This finding reamined after after adjusting for known risk factors including maternal smoking during pregnancy, season of birth, delivery mode and gestational age, the researchers reported in European Respiratory Journal.
There was a dose–response effect with the number of ARI hospitalisations in the first year of life in the direction of a stronger risk of respiratory hospitalisation after 3 years with increasing number of ARI admissions in infancy.
“The strongest predictor of respiratory morbidity and asthma requiring hospitalisation after 3 years of age is recurrent hospitalisation for ARI in infancy..If prevention efforts are focused on early infection, the benefit is likely to extend to later morbidity,” the researchers concluded.