Encephalopathy associated with respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis

Y T Ng, C Cox, J Atkins, I J Butler
Journal of Child Neurology 2001, 16 (2): 105-8
Respiratory syncytial virus is an extremely common cause of childhood respiratory infections resulting in significant morbidity and mortality. Although apnea is a well-known complication in young infants with respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis, the encephalopathy associated with this infection is not well recognized. Our study reveals an incidence of encephalopathy of 1.8% in a total of 487 patients with respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis studied over a period of almost 4 years. Seizures were the presenting complication. Based on our study of a cohort of children with respiratory syncytial virus bronchiolitis, we believe that neurologic complications, although relatively uncommon, represent a significant component of this common childhood illness. Furthermore, respiratory syncytial virus has been shown to release several mediators that could directly or indirectly be neurotoxic and induce an encephalopathy associated with the respiratory illness.


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