Research suggests transmission of respiratory viruses in utero

April 18, 2013

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.

Explore further: New agent strikes at respiratory syncytial virus replication

Related Stories

New agent strikes at respiratory syncytial virus replication

May 5, 2008

University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston researchers have achieved promising results with a potential new weapon against respiratory syncytial virus, the most common cause of infant hospitalization in the United States.

More children need medical help for RSV than previously known

February 4, 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

Zika virus may persist in the vagina days after infection

August 25, 2016

The Zika virus reproduces in the vaginal tissue of pregnant mice several days after infection, according to a study by Yale researchers. From the genitals, the virus spreads and infects the fetal brain, impairing fetal development. ...

Team discovers how Zika virus causes fetal brain damage

August 24, 2016

Infection by the Zika virus diverts a key protein necessary for neural cell division in the developing human fetus, thereby causing the birth defect microcephaly, a team of Yale scientists reported Aug. 24 in the journal ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.