Pneumonia a leading cause of hospitalization for children

Pneumonia a leading cause of hospitalization for children

What Doctors Know

Source: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Pneumonia puts thousands of young children in the hospital each year at a cost in the U.S. of about $1 billion, not to mention the suffering of these young patients and the hardship for their families, according to a new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

CDC Director Dr. Tom Frieden said the study showed that children younger than 5 years of age account for 70 percent of pneumonia hospitalizations among children. Pneumonia remains a leading cause of hospitalization among children in the United States.

The two-and-a-half-year study, published recently in the New England Journal of Medicine by CDC researchers and three U.S. children’s medical centers, estimated the burden of community-acquired pneumonia hospitalizations among U.S. children. Researchers also found that respiratory viruses, rather than bacterial pathogens, were most commonly detected in children hospitalized with pneumonia.

“This ground-breaking study shows how badly we need faster, less-expensive diagnostic tests for doctors to accurately diagnose the cause of pneumonia so they can effectively treat the disease,” Frieden added.

“The data gathered from this study add to the evidence base that respiratory virus infections lead to pneumonia hospitalizations and complications in children,” said Dr. Seema Jain, lead author of the paper and a medical epidemiologist in CDC’s Influenza Division. “We hope this provides incentive for the continued and future development of effective treatments and vaccines against pathogens that don’t have such countermeasures available. It also highlights the importance of using existing treatments and vaccines, such as those against pneumococcus and influenza.”

The CDC Etiology of Pneumonia in the Community (EPIC) study sought to address gaps in knowledge about pneumonia in children by providing estimates of the incidence of community-acquired pneumonia hospitalizations in U.S. children.

Children in the study were enrolled from January 2010 to June 2012 in three U.S. children’s hospitals in Memphis and Nashville, Tenn., and Salt Lake City. Study staff tested children using a range of laboratory tests for viral and bacterial respiratory pathogen detection.

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