Episode 22: Risk Factors for Bronchiolitis Care Escalation

Bronchiolitis, Emergency Medicine

On this episode, host Jason Woods speaks with Dr. Gabrielle Freire about her work with PERN (Pediatric Emergency Research Network) and evaluation of predictive risk factors for escalation of care in bronchiolitis.


Multiple risk factors were found that predicted escalated care in infants. Infants aged < 12 months old with bronchiolitis but without predictors have a low risk of receiving escalated care (<1%) and may be candidates for outpatient management. Infants with increasing numbers of predictors are at a increasing risk of requiring escalated care and need consideration for in patient care with expertise in paediatric airway support.

The highlights:

  • Background
    • Bronchiolitis is responsible for ~ 16% of all hospitalizations in the first year of life
    • The cost incurred from bronchiolitis admissions is thought to be ~ $1.78 billion every year in the US and Canada
  • Study methods
    • Retrospective cohort study of a previously collected database of infants aged < 12 months with clinical diagnosis of bronchiolitis
    • Inclusion
      • Bronchiolitis defined as viral respiratory infection with respiratory distress
      • Age 12 months or younger
      • Visits from Jan – Dec 2013 collected as part of PERN
      • First episode of bronchiolitis only
    • Exclusion
      • Comorbidities such as chronic lung disease, congenital heart disease, immunodeficiency, renal or liver insufficiency, neuromuscular disorders
      • Prior episode of diagnosed bronchiolitis
  • Results
    • 2722 patients included
    • 261 (9.6%) required escalated care
    • Predictors included in the final model
      • O2 sats < 90 (OR 8.9)
      • Nasal flaring/grunting (OR 3.76)
      • Apnea (OR 3.01)
      • Retractions (OR 3.02)
      • Age < 2 months (OR 2.1)
      • Concomitant dehydration (OR 2.13)
      • Poor feeding (OR 1.85)
  • Discussion points (detailed in the audio)
    • Respiratory rate and retractions were co-linear, so RR was not included in the final model
    • The risk score “points” were assigned by diving the OR by 2 to give a total score of 14
    • Duration of illness was not found to be a significant predictor – this may be due to the lack of granularity of the data (only available in days rather than hours)
    • Oxygen saturation had the highest OR by a substantial margin


Gabrielle Freire MD, Paediatric Emergency Physician, The Hospital for Sick Children, Department of Paediatrics University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, CA.

Important Resources

  1. PERN website


  • Freire G et. al. for the Pediatric Emergency Research Networks (PERN). Predicting Escalated CAre in Infants with Bronchiolitis. Pediatrics. 2018 Sept 142;3. PMID: 30126934.