Pediatric patients are at an increased risk of becoming seriously ill with pneumonia, with the cause most likely a respiratory virus, according to a study in The New England Journal of Medicine. To analyze the cause of pneumonia in the pediatric population in the United States, the investigators tested body fluid samples from 2,222 children treated for pneumonia at three US children’s hospitals. Researchers found that almost three-quarters of the children had viral infections, either alone or in combination with a bacterial infection.

The research team found that 66% of the pneumonia cases were caused by viruses alone, while just 8% had only bacterial causes and 7% were known to be caused by both viruses and bacteria. A news report from The Clinical Advisor notes that the most commonly detected virus was respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). A total of 15% of children in the study had evidence of bacterial infection (alone or in combination with a viral infection).

Seema Jain, MD, and colleagues write, “Incidence estimates of hospitalizations for community-acquired pneumonia among children in the United States that are based on prospective data collection are limited.” The researchers add, “Updated estimates of pneumonia that has been confirmed radiographically and with the use of current laboratory diagnostic tests are needed.”

The researcher team concludes, “The burden of hospitalization for children with community-acquired pneumonia was highest among the very young, with respiratory viruses the most commonly detected causes of pneumonia.”

Source: The Clinical Advisor