Recurrent respiratory papillomatosis (RRP) was first described in the 1800s, but it was not until the 1980s when it was convincingly attributed to human papilloma virus (HPV). RRP is categorized into juvenile onset and adult onset depending on presentation before or after the age of 12 years, respectively. The prevalence of this disease is likely variable depending on the age of presentation, country and socioeconomic status of the population being studied, but is generally accepted to be between 1 and 4 per 100 000. Despite the low prevalence, the economic burden of RRP is high given the multiple procedures required by patients. Multiple studies have shown that the most likely route of transmission of HPV in RRP is from mother to child during labor. Exceptions to this may include patients with congenital RRP who have been exposed in utero and adult patients who may have been exposed during sexual contact. Although cesarean section may prevent the exposure of children to the HPV virus during childbirth, its effectiveness in preventing RRP is debatable and the procedure itself carries an increased risk of complications. The quadrivalent HPV vaccine holds the most promise for the prevention of RRP by eliminating the maternal reservoir for HPV.
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