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This study found a significantly higher burden of all respiratory infections, including respiratory syncytial virus, among Blacks and Hispanics in the United States. Hence, the study confirmed that social inequalities result in a higher risk of respiratory infections, including RSV.

This systematic review and meta-analysis was published in the journal Diseases and particularly focused on racial disparities and common respiratory infections, including respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Though many earlier studies focused on these disparities in adults, the racial gap in the occurrence of respiratory infections in children remains largely neglected. There are numerous factors contributing to these inequalities, including higher poverty rates, a greater prevalence of chronic ailments, and poorer access to healthcare for specific racial groups. Identifying this racial gap should be prioritized in order to eliminate health disparities among children. 

Significantly Higher Burden of Respiratory Infections in Blacks and Hispanics

This systematic review examined the burden of all the common respiratory infections, including SARS-COV-2, influenza, RSV, and others. It included studies from January 2016 to December 2022. It only included studies that focused on children and adolescents, that is, children between 0 and 17 years of age. 

The study identified significant racial disparities, including a much higher RSV burden among U.S. children of color. The study found that 59% of the burden of respiratory infections was distributed among Blacks and Hispanics, despite these population groups being ethnic minorities in the US. Similarly, the study found that the hospitalization rate among Blacks and Hispanics accounted for 55.5% of all cases. Additionally, Blacks and Hispanics were more likely to develop complications due to antibiotic-resistant strains.

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The Bottom line

This study clearly shows a significantly higher burden of all respiratory infections, including RSV, in children of African descent and Hispanic children. These disparities can be reduced by focusing on improving equitable access to healthcare, including resources such as vaccines. 

Source:

Jones, E. A. K., Mitra, A. K., & Malone, S. (2023). Racial Disparities and Common Respiratory Infectious Diseases in Children of the United States: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. Diseases, 11(1), 23. https://doi.org/10.3390/diseases11010023