Research suggests transmission of respiratory viruses in utero

The most common cause of lower respiratory tract infections in infants and young children, respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), can be transferred during pregnancy to an unborn baby, according to Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital research published online this week in the journal PLOS ONE.

In animal models, the study shows that RSV is able to spread across the placenta from the respiratory tract of the mother to the fetus, and is present in the lungs after birth, throughout development and into adulthood. RSV is considered the primary cause of infant pneumonia and has been implicated in the development of asthma.

"Epidemiologic evidence suggests that early-life RSV infection predisposes children to recurrent wheezing and asthma," said Giovanni Piedimonte, M.D., the study's lead author and Chairman of Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital and the Pediatric Institute. "This study challenges the current paradigm that RSV infection is acquired only after birth and shifts attention to prenatal effects of the virus, which may result in more severe and lasting consequences by interfering with an unborn baby's critical developmental processes."

Research was completed in an animal model, in which rats were inoculated with RSV during midterm pregnancy. Of those infected, RSV was found in 30 percent of fetuses, as well as in the lungs of 40 percent of newborns and 25 percent of those that reached adulthood.

Dr. Piedimonte has been the principal investigator or co-investigator of more than 30 research projects, and has authored and co-authored more than 250 journal articles, book chapters, monographs, editorials and abstracts. He holds 17 and is frequently invited to speak nationally and internationally.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

More children need medical help for RSV than previously known

Feb 04, 2009

More than 2 million children with Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) are seen in hospitals, emergency rooms and doctors' offices in the United States every year -- many more than doctors know. In fact, only 3 percent of children ...

Recommended for you

Meningitis diagnosis prompted W.Va. clinic probe

10 hours ago

A health official says an investigation that found syringes were being reused at a West Virginia pain management clinic was triggered by patient who developed bacterial meningitis.

California firm issues nationwide fruit recall

14 hours ago

A Central California company has issued a voluntary nationwide recall of specific lots of its fresh peaches, plums, nectarines and pluots over concerns of possible listeria contamination.

User comments