Childhood pneumonia: study pinpoints viral cause in most cases

Research shows viral infections are more common than bacterial ones in children with pneumonia.

A new study has shown that viral infections are more common than bacterial ones in children diagnosed with pneumonia. 

The current vaccinations given to prevent pneumonia in children can prevent bacterial infections but not viral infections. The research, published in the journal The New England Journal of Medicine, investigated the causes of pneumonia in 2,222 children in the USA. The authors looked at their body fluid samples to understand the bacterial and viral causes of the infection.

Viral infections were much more common than bacterial infections in the children in the study:73% compared with 15%.

The authors believe that vaccinations have helped to lower the rate of bacterial infections and more research is needed to understand the causes of childhood pneumonia that results from viral infections.

Co-investigator Dr. Andrew Pavia said, “Our results are consistent with previous findings, and support continuing immunisation efforts to maintain the reduction in bacterial pneumonia. It’s also important to understand how causes of pneumonia have changed so we can better approach the illness, which still leads to high rates of hospitalisation among children.”

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Read the original research paper 

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