RSV in Infants Linked to Asthma

Via the BBC:  Crippling viral infections ’cause asthma’

Viral infections in newborns “cripple” part of the immune system and increase the risk of asthma later in life, US researchers studying mice have said.

They showed infections by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) stripped immune cells of their ability to calm down inflammation in the lung’s airways.

This caught my eye because one of sons had RSV as a baby and has asthma.

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Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. It seems like there is still a lot to learn about human/microbe interactions. It is a good funding area.

  2. Just Me says:

    Just a note-you have RSV reversed in your title to RVS.

    That said, my daughter had RSV as a child and has asthma, although for whatever reason I already aware of the link.

  3. sam says:

    Also, there’s this:

    An Immune Disorder at the Root of Autism

    In recent years, scientists have made extraordinary advances in understanding the causes of autism, now estimated to afflict 1 in 88 children. But remarkably little of this understanding has percolated into popular awareness, which often remains fixated on vaccines.

    So here’s the short of it: At least a subset of autism — perhaps one-third, and very likely more — looks like a type of inflammatory disease. And it begins in the womb.

    It starts with what scientists call immune dysregulation. Ideally, your immune system should operate like an enlightened action hero, meting out inflammation precisely, accurately and with deadly force when necessary, but then quickly returning to a Zen-like calm. Doing so requires an optimal balance of pro- and anti-inflammatory muscle.

    In autistic individuals, the immune system fails at this balancing act. Inflammatory signals dominate. Anti-inflammatory ones are inadequate. A state of chronic activation prevails. And the more skewed toward inflammation, the more acute the autistic symptoms.

    Nowhere are the consequences of this dysregulation more evident than in the autistic brain. Spidery cells that help maintain neurons — called astroglia and microglia — are enlarged from chronic activation. Pro-inflammatory signaling molecules abound. Genes involved in inflammation are switched on.

    These findings are important for many reasons, but perhaps the most noteworthy is that they provide evidence of an abnormal, continuing biological process. That means that there is finally a therapeutic target for a disorder defined by behavioral criteria like social impairments, difficulty communicating and repetitive behaviors.

  4. @Just Me: Thanks, I guess my brain was going to CVS for the sick child.

    I figured that there was a link between RSV and asthma, but I thought it went the other direction: that children genetically predisposed to asthma were more likely to get RSV as babies.

  5. Franklin says:

    I have a boy developing asthma, but he didn’t have RSV. I blame it on giving him too much Tylenol when he was an infant, which greatly increases the risk of asthma later in life. We didn’t know that back then, so we gave him Tylenol frequently due to ear infections. (If I had to do it again, I think he still would have needed relief, but I would have tried to use it less frequently and switched back-and-forth with ibuprofen. Oh, and we would have put tubes in earlier.)