A backdated study from JAMA Pediatrics revealed that hospital admission rates were significantly higher for respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) compared with the omicron strain of COVID or the flu.
The data, collected from testing of children at Swedish emergency departments from August 2021 to September 2022, was reported by Dr. Pontus Hedberg and researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.
Hospitalization rates for RSV were 81.7 percent, compared with 31.5 percent for omicron and 27.7 percent for influenza.
“That RSV can be dangerous for both infants and young children is well-known, but the major differences in hospitalization rates observed for RSV compared with both SARS-CoV-2 omicron and influenza A/B across all age groups were surprising,” Hedberg said, according to ABC News.
While intensive care unit (ICU) admission rates were low for all three illnesses, the rates were highest for RSV. Out of the 2,596 children included in the study, 2.9 percent with RSV were admitted to the ICU, compared with just 0.9 percent for influenza and 0.7 percent for omicron.
Mortality within 30 days was low as well. Two patients with omicron and one with RSV died.
The study also found that the odds of newborns and infants up to 1 year of age being hospitalized with RSV were 11 times higher than those diagnosed with omicron, and that children between 2 and 4 years old and those between 5 years 17 years old with RSV were much more likely to be hospitalized than those with omicron.
The study showed that perinatal conditions, asthma and congenital abnormalities were common among the children who were hospitalized.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has estimated that RSV leads to 58,000 to 80,000 hospitalizations a year and 100 to 300 deaths in children under 5 years old.
The study included 896 children with omicron, 426 with influenza and 1,274 with RSV. More than 77 percent of the children with RSV and more than 72 percent of those with omicron were younger than 2 years old. Eighty-one percent of the children with the flu were older.
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