Arch Dis Child 98:72-76 doi:10.1136/archdischild-2012-302760
  • Reviews

Protracted bacterial bronchitis: reinventing an old disease

  1. Mark L Everard
  1. Department of Respiratory Medicine, Sheffield Children's Hospital, Sheffield, UK
  1. Correspondence to Professor Mark L Everard, Department of Respiratory Medicine, Sheffield Children's Hospital, Western Bank, Sheffield S10 2TH, UK; m.l.everard{at}
  • Received 31 July 2012
  • Revised 5 October 2012
  • Accepted 24 October 2012
  • Published Online First 22 November 2012


Chronic cough is common in the paediatric population, yet the true prevalence of this condition remains difficult to define. Protracted bacterial bronchitis (PBB) is a disease caused by the chronic infection of the conducting airways. In many children the condition appears to be secondary to impaired mucociliary clearance that creates a niche for bacteria to become established, probably in the form of biofilms. In others, immunodeficiencies, which may be subtle, appear to be a factor. PBB causes persistent coughing and disturbed sleep, and affects exercise tolerance, causing significant levels of morbidity. PBB has remained largely unrecognised and is often misdiagnosed as asthma.

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