A study recently released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that the majority of children hospitalized with pneumonia in the United States over a two-and-a-half-year period were younger than 5 years old.
The study took place at three children’s medical centers in Salt Lake City, Nashville and Memphis from January 2010 to June 2012.
Of the 2,638 participants, 2,358 had pneumonia confirmed by radiographs. Children younger than 5 years old comprised 70 percent of the childhood pneumonia hospitalizations.
Of the hospitalized children, 21 percent of them required intensive care. Three of the children died.
“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 suffering of kids and hardship for their families,” Dr. Tom Frieden, CDC director, said. “This groundbreaking 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 it.”
While in the hospital, pathogens were detected in 1,802 of the children, viruses were found in 1,472 children and bacteria was detected in 175 children. Both bacterial and viral infections were found in 155 children.
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) was the most common pathogen found.
"The data gathered from this study add to the evidence base that respiratory virus infections lead to pneumonia hospitalizations and complications in children,” Dr. Seema Jain, lead author of the study and a medical epidemiologist in CDC’s Influenza Division, said. “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.”