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Bronchiolitis caused by respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is a major cause of mortality and morbidity in infants.


To describe RSV epidemiology in children in the community in a high-income setting.


We used stored blood samples from the United Kingdom Born in Bradford cohort study that had been collected at birth, age 1 and 2 years old, tested for IgG RSV postfusion F antibody and linked to questionnaires and primary and hospital care records. We used finite mixture models to classify children as RSV infected/not infected according to their antibody concentrations at age 1 and 2 years. We assessed risk factors for primary RSV infection at each age using Poisson regression models.


The study cohort included 700 children with cord blood samples; 490 had additional blood samples taken at both ages 1 and 2 years old. Of these 490 children, 258 (53%; 95% confidence interval (CI): 48–57%) were first infected with RSV at age 1, 99 of whom (38%; 95% CI: 33–43%) had been in contact with healthcare during peak RSV season (November–January). Having older siblings, birth in October–June and attending formal childcare were associated with risk of RSV infection in infancy. By age 2, a further 164 of 490 children (33%; 95% CI: 29–38%) had been infected.


Over half of children experienced RSV infection in infancy, a further one third had evidence of primary RSV infection by age 2, and one in seven remained seronegative by their second birthday. These findings will inform future analyses to assess the cost-effectiveness of RSV vaccination programmes in high-income settings.


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