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RSV: Risk of Complications

Topic Overview

With respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infections, there is an increased risk of having complications, especially in certain babies and young children and in adults older than 65.

Babies and young children

Certain children have a high risk for problems such as bronchiolitis or pneumonia as a result of RSV. They include:

  • Babies younger than 6 months, especially those born early.
  • Children who have existing heart or lung disease.

Conditions that put babies and young children at higher risk for problems include:

If your young child has a health condition, your doctor may recommend medicine to help prevent problems from RSV.

Older adults

Adults older than 65 have an increased risk for complications following infection with RSV. Pneumonia from an RSV infection is a particular risk for people in this age group, especially if they have other diseases, such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or heart failure.

Other complications older adults may develop as a result of RSV infection include bronchiolitis and respiratory failure. Older adults may also recover more slowly from RSV and complications than people in other age groups do.


Other Works Consulted

  • Committee on Infectious Diseases, Bronchiolitis Guidelines Committee (2014). Updated guidance for palivizumab prophylaxis among infants and young children at increased risk of hospitalization for respiratory syncytial virus infection. Pediatrics, published online July 28, 2014. DOI: 10.1542/peds.2014-1666. Accessed August 1, 2014.


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSusan C. Kim, MD - Pediatrics
Specialist Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics

Current as ofMay 4, 2017

Current as of: May 4, 2017

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