Fifty four patients aged from 1 to 6 years who had had recurrent attacks of wheezy bronchitis were prospectively followed up for three months to find out if there was an association between different viral respiratory infections and episodes of wheezing. Of the 115 episodes of upper or lower respiratory tract symptoms, virus or Mycoplasma pneumoniae infection were diagnosed in 52 (45%). Thirty four of rhinoviruses. The patients had an average of 2.1 episodes of respiratory tract symptoms the total mean (SD) duration of which was 30 (2) days of the 92 days that followed. Wheezing occurred during 76 (66%) of the 115 episodes and during a third of these the patient was admitted to hospital because of severe dyspnoea. Wheezing started a mean (SD) of 43 (7) hours after the first symptoms of respiratory infection and persisted for 3.8 (4.2) days in patients in whom virus infection was diagnosed. The incidence of wheezing was not associated with IgE mediated atopy, with positive virological tests, or with fever during virus infection, but was associated with parental smoking and more than one sibling.
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