Background: Respiratory tract infections (RTIs) are the most common disorders among children. Red blood cell distribution width (RDW) was proven to be associated with the prognosis of many diseases, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Methods: We aimed to evaluate the diagnostic and prognostic value of RDW level in children with RTIs. A total of 1,044 RTI cases and 115 healthy controls in our center were involved in this study. We compared the differences of RDW level among different groups of RTI cases and controls. Receiver operating curve (ROC) analysis was applied to determine the predictive value of RDW level in the risk of various groups of RTIs. Clinical and laboratory parameters were compared between RTIs with RDW > 14% and ≤ 14%. Correlation analyses were conducted to investigate the relationship between RDW and RTIs’ clinical and laboratory parameters.
Results: Significant differences of RDW levels between tonsillitis without suppression and with suppression (p = 0.024), bronchitis and pneumonia (p = 0.008), non-mycoplasma pneumonia and mycoplasma pneumonia (p < 10-4), and total RTIs and healthy controls (p < 10-4) were observed. Significant associations between RDW level and pneumonia, mycoplasma pneumonia, and total RTI risk were observed (ROC = 0.560, p = 0.022; ROC = 0.537, p = 0.043; ROC = 0.863, p < 10-4). Significant differences of WBC, PLT, ESR, Scr, and CK levels were observed between RTIs with RDW > 14% and ≤ 14%. RDW level was significantly associated with WBC, PLT, Scr, ALT, LDH, and CKMB.
Conclusions: RDW was a non-invasive, low-cost, and widely available predictor for the risk and progression of RTIs. RDW level may reflect the disease course among RTIs.