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Study finds maternal diet may predict respiratory syncytial virus severity

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An important predictor of the severity of respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) in infants may be what their mothers ate during pregnancy.

Fernando Polack, M.D., Cesar Milstein Professor of Pediatrics, is lead author of an article in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine that finds the most serious cases of RSV correlate with mothers who ate a diet high in carbohydrates during pregnancy.

“These cases were not just severe, but the sickest of sick. What we found was the impact of a carbohydrate rich diet was clearly dose dependent,” Polack said.

More than 1,200 infants younger than 2 years old were hospitalized in 12 institutions in Buenos Aires, Argentina, during the 2011 RSV season.

Of those, nearly 800 were found to have RSV infection, and 106 of those babies had oxygen saturation rates below 87 percent: considered life-threatening disease. Twenty-two infants died in the hospital, and an additional 26 infants died at home with evidence suggesting they died from RSV.
 
 

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