Bronchiolitis Before and After the SARS-CoV2 Pandemic: Twelve Years of
Experience in a Spanish Paediatric Hospital
Introduction: Acute bronchiolitis (AB) is the main cause
of hospitalization in children under two years of age, with a regular
winter seasonality, mostly due to the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).
Objectives: To describe the epidemiology of
bronchiolitis hospitalizations in our centre in the last twelve years,
and analyse the changes in clinical characteristics, microbiology, and
adverse outcomes during the SARS-CoV2 pandemic. Methods:
Ambispective observational study including patients admitted for
bronchiolitis between April 2010 and December 2021 in a Spanish tertiary
paediatric hospital. Relevant demographic, clinical, microbiological,
and adverse outcome variables were collected in an anonymized database.
The pandemic period (April 2020 to December 2021) was compared to
2010-2015 seasons using appropriate statistical tests.
Results: There were 2138 bronchiolitis admissions, with
a mean of 195.6 per year between 2010-2019 and a 2–4-month peak between
November and March. In the winter of 2020, there was a 94.4% reduction
of bronchiolitis hospitalizations, with only eleven cases admitted in
the first year of the pandemic. Bronchiolitis cases increased during the
summer of 2021 in a six-month long peak, reaching a total of 171 cases.
Length of stay was significantly shorter during the pandemic, but no
differences were found in clinical and microbiological characteristics
or other adverse outcomes. Conclusions: The SARS-CoV2
pandemic has modified the seasonality of bronchiolitis hospitalizations,
with a dramatic decrease in cases during the winter of 2020-2021, and an
extemporaneous summer-autumn peak in 2021 with longer duration but
similar patient characteristics.