Introduction Respiratory viruses causing lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) are a major cause of hospital admissions in children. Since the course of these infections is unpredictable with potential fast deterioration into respiratory failure, infants are easily admitted to the hospital for observation. The aim of this study was to examine whether systemic inflammatory markers can be used to predict severity of disease in children with respiratory viral infections. Methods Blood and nasopharyngeal washings from children <3 years of age with viral LRTI attending a hospital were collected within 24 hours (acute) and after 4-6 weeks (recovery). Patients were assigned to a mild (observation only), moderate (supplemental oxygen and/or nasogastric feeding) or severe (mechanical ventilation) group. Linear regression analysis was used to design a prediction rule using plasma levels of C reactive protein (CRP), serum amyloid A (SAA), pentraxin 3 (PTX3), serum amyloid P component and properdin. This rule was tested in a validation cohort. Results One hundred and four children (52% male) were included. A combination of CRP, SAA, PTX3 and properdin was a better indicator of severe disease compared with any of the individual makers and age (69% sensitivity (95% CI 50 to 83), 90% specificity (95% CI 80 to 96)). Validation in 141 patients resulted in 71% sensitivity (95% CI 53 to 85), 87% specificity (95% CI 79 to 92), negative predictive value of 64% (95% CI 47 to 78) and positive predictive value of 90% (95% CI 82 to 95). The prediction rule was not able to identify patients with a mild course of disease. Conclusion A combination of CRP, SAA, PTX3 and properdin was able to identify children with a severe course of viral LRTI disease, even in children under 2 months of age. To assess the true impact on clinical management, these results should be validated in a prospective randomised control study.

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BMJ Open

Ahout, I.M.L. (Inge M.L.), Brand, K.H. (Kim H.), Zomer, A. (Aldert), Van Den Hurk, W.H. (Wilhelma H.), Schilders, G., Brouwer, M. L., … Ferwerda, G. (2017). Prospective observational study in two Dutch hospitals to assess the performance of inflammatory plasma markers to determine disease severity of viral respiratory tract infections in children. BMJ Open, 7(6). doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-014596