Risk factors for bronchiolitis, recurrent wheezing, and related hospitalization in preterm infants during the first year of life

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Airway diseases are highly prevalent in infants and cause significant morbidity. We aimed to determine the incidence and risk factors for respiratory morbidity in a Spanish cohort of moderate-to-late preterm (MLP) infants prospectively followed during their first year of life.


SAREPREM is a multicenter, prospective, longitudinal study. Preterm infants born at 32–35 weeks of gestation with no comorbidities were enrolled within 2 weeks of life and followed at 2–4 weeks, 6, and 12 months of age. Multivariate mixed-models were performed to identify independent risk factors associated with (i) development of bronchiolitis, (ii) recurrent wheezing, or (iii) related hospital admissions.


Overall, 977 preterm infants were included, and 766 (78.4%) completed follow-up. Of those, 365 (47.7%) developed bronchiolitis during the first year, 144 (18.8%) recurrent wheezing, and 48 (6.3%) were hospitalized. While low birthweight, day care attendance (DCA) and school-age siblings were significantly and independently associated with both the development of bronchiolitis and recurrent wheezing, lower maternal age increased the risk for bronchiolitis and respiratory-related hospitalizations. Lastly, mechanical ventilation was associated with a higher risk of bronchiolitis and history of asthma in any parent increased the likelihood of developing recurrent wheezing.


In this study, several non-modifiable parameters (family history of asthma, low birthweight, need for mechanical ventilation) and modifiable parameters (young maternal age, DCA, or exposure to school-age siblings) were identified as significant risk factors for the development of bronchiolitis and recurrent wheezing during the first year of life in MLP infants.

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