Friday, September 29, 2023

Bronchiolitis is back here we explain how to protect the health of your babies

Bronchiolitis affects one in three children under two years of age each year, especially the youngest ones. (© VM/Actu Toulouse)

After an early and particularly virulent bronchiolitis epidemic last year, what should young parents expect this year?

“The bronchiolitis epidemic is not here until the end of August – beginning of September, we have already observed a little activity that resumes”, presented this Tuesday, September 19, 2023 at a press point (attended Dr. Caroline Semaille, Director General of Public Health of France (SPF).

It is low, we are not in an epidemic phase but we must be very careful. We could find ourselves in a situation quite comparable to last year.

Dr. Carolina SemailleDirector General of Public Health France

Furthermore, to avoid finding itself in an unsustainable situation for pediatric hospital services again, the Ministry of Health is taking the initiative, driven this year by the hope of a new treatment.

The latter has been available for a few days for children under one year old and can help prevent the epidemic.

More than 73,000 emergency visits in 2022-2023

Each year, bronchiolitis affects approximately one in three children under two years of age, or about 480,000 cases per year. For more severe forms of this respiratory virus, it may be necessary to go to the emergency room or even intensive care.

In the 2022-2023 season, the epidemic caused more than 73,000 emergency visitshaving caused more than 26,000 hospitalizations, according to the Public Health France report of July 19, 2023.

“Fever, cough, runny nose” are among the symptoms of bronchiolitis, recalled Professor Christèle Gras-Le Guen, pediatrician, head of the pediatric department at the University Hospital of Nantes and former president of the French Pediatric Society.

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In young children, “this can cause respiratory discomfort, which can lead to a lack of oxygen,” leading to treatment in intensive care units, or even “in intensive care depending on age, weight… “he added.

Every year, inevitably, starting in October, it affects thousands of children and their worried parents, disrupts the lives of children and families and completely disorganizes the health system, both private medicine and emergency services and hospitalization.

Professor Christèle Gras-Le GuenHead of the pediatric department at the Nantes University Hospital and former president of the French Pediatric Society

“Simple” prevention actions

A few weeks after autumn and winter And before the start of virus circulation, “we have all the means to implement simple preventive measures, whether for bronchiolitis, but also for Covid or the flu,” the Ministry of Health recalled at the beginning of the press conference.

Among the main measures, barrier gestures. “Bronchiolitis, It is not inevitable”assured Professor Christèle Gras-Le Guen, recommending “specific barrier measures for young children.”

In situations where there are a large number of children in a closed space, the risk of viruses circulating is very high. Therefore, we must keep them away from these places where viruses circulate, such as supermarkets, shopping centers, public transport, large family celebrations.

Professor Christèle Gras-Le GuenHead of the pediatric department at the Nantes University Hospital and former president of the French Pediatric Society

The teacher also remembers the importance of washing hands, and in the event that the parents themselves are carriers of a virus, she recommends wearing a mask.

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And a treatment this year, which brings hope.

Special feature this year, the free provision for families of a new preventive treatment to immunize the youngest people in particular against the virus: the Beyfortus.

It is a human monoclonal antibody (nirsevimab), developed by the Sanofi/AstraZeneca laboratories, which is not a vaccine but is injected into the thigh. According to the ANSM, a single injection into the muscle is enough to protect the child for at least five months.

It is from the antibody family. It will block the virus before it enters the body’s cells and takes hold. Unlike a vaccine, antibodies are administered in a tray, resulting in a very rapid reaction a few days after treatment.

Professor Christèle Gras-Le GuenHead of the pediatric department at the Nantes University Hospital and former president of the French Pediatric Society

Tested on nearly 10,000 children (and backed by 30 years of work on a “cousin” treatment for premature babies), studies on this treatment have shown a 75% drop in post-treatment consultations and a reduction of up to almost 80% in hospitalizations for bronchiolitis.

For health authorities, this treatment represents a “great hope” to be able to significantly reduce the number of hospitalizations this year.”

Note that this treatment targets respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the main cause of bronchiolitis, in 80% of cases. But does not protect against other viruses that can cause bronchiolitis like the flu, Covid, or other viruses.

Furthermore, to adequately protect oneself, health authorities recommend combining treatment with barrier gestures and observing “the greatest vigilance with very young children.”

“Protect children as early as possible”

Accessible free of charge to families, this treatment (200,000 doses have been pre-reserved by the ministry) has been offered since Friday in maternity wards. They are eligible for this new preventive treatment (which can be prescribed by the treating doctor) for all children born on or after February 6, 2023.

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In fact, its objective above all is to “limit the severe forms of the disease.” However, these severe forms mainly affect “very young children, those under one year of age and, in particular, those under one month of age.”

“Therefore we wish to protect children as early as possible of maternity because in case of bronchiolitis, they are the first to be hospitalized”, emphasizes Professor Christèle Gras-Le Guen, delighted with the first “encouraging” results, with “dozens and dozens of children immunized against Friday.”

In France, there are around 700,000 births in France.

convince parents

The pediatrician recognizes that it is now necessary be able to convince parentssome of whom may be reluctant: “if we cannot convince people of this opportunity and this possibility, everything will have been in vain.”

The pediatrician wants to be reassuring and points out “extremely modest, quite rare and completely benign” side effects.

Pour inform the general public, the Ministry of Health will soon deploy a major communication campaign. Santé Publique France must also publish its epidemiological bulletin on bronchiolitis on Wednesday.

Enough to prepare for an “issue that will occupy (the health authorities) in the coming weeks.”

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