A mother’s diet during pregnancy is an important predictor of the severity of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in infants, according to new research.
RSV is the most common cause of severe lower respiratory tract disease among infants and young children worldwide. Currently there is no effective vaccine against RSV. Outbreaks occur in communities each year, usually lasting 4-5 months during the fall, winter, and/or spring months.
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Fernando Polack, lead author and professor of pediatrics at Vanderbilt University, says his study found that the most serious cases of RSV correlate with mothers who ate a diet high in carbohydrates during pregnancy.
“These cases were not just severe, but the sickest of sick,” Polack says. “What we found was the presumptive impact of a carbohydrate-rich diet was clearly dose dependent.”
More than 1,200 infants younger than 2 years old were hospitalized in 12 institutions in Buenos Aires, Argentina, during the 2011 RSV season.
Of those patients, nearly 800 were found to have RSV infection, and 106 of those babies were considered to have a life-threatening form of the disease, with oxygen saturation rates below 87 percent: Twenty-two infants died in the hospital, and an additional 26 infants died at home with evidence suggesting they died from RSV.