Factors associated with serious outcomes of pneumonia among children in a birth cohort in South Africa

David M Le Roux, Mark P Nicol, Aneesa Vanker, Polite M Nduru, Heather J Zar

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2 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Child hospitalization for pneumonia remains common, and pneumonia is a major cause of child mortality. Early identification of clinical factors associated with serious outcomes may help target risk-mitigation strategies.

METHODS: Pneumonia cases occurring in the Drakenstein Child Health Study, a prospective birth cohort outside Cape Town, South Africa were analysed, and factors associated with serious outcomes of pneumonia were identified. Pregnant women were enrolled antenatally, followed through pregnancy, and mother-child pairs from birth to 2 years. Active surveillance for pneumonia was done. Children hospitalized with pneumonia had chest radiography and blood drawn for inflammatory markers; course, outcome and duration of hospitalization were investigated. Serious outcomes were defined as in-hospital mortality or admission to intensive care unit (ICU). Prolonged hospitalization was also explored as a proxy for severity. Features associated with serious outcomes or prolonged hospitalization were analysed using modified Poisson regression.

RESULTS: Among 1143 live born infants, there were 174 hospitalized pneumonia events in 133 children under 2 years. Three children (1.7%) died, 14 (8%) required ICU admission for respiratory support. In modified Poisson regression, age < 2 months, preterm birth, or hypoxia (oxygen saturation <92%) were significantly associated with serious outcomes. Preterm birth, low birth weight, HIV exposure, stunting, or underweight-for-age (UWFA) were associated with prolonged hospitalization. Chest radiography, elevated C reactive protein, white blood cell and neutrophil counts were not useful to predict death or ICU admission in children hospitalized with pneumonia.

CONCLUSIONS: In this cohort, death from pneumonia was rare, but clinical features associated with serious outcomes and prolonged hospitalization were identified. These may help with risk stratification, to identify children who may benefit from enhanced monitoring or earlier escalation to respiratory support.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0255790
JournalPLoS One
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021


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