Lower respiratory tract infections in children in a well-vaccinated South African birth cohort: Spectrum of disease and risk factors

David M le Roux, Mark P Nicol, Landon Myer, Aneesa Vanker, Jacob A M Stadler, Eckart von Delft, Heather J Zar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Citations (Scopus)


BACKGROUND: Childhood lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) cause substantial morbidity and under-5 child mortality. The epidemiology of LRTI is changing in low- and middle-income countries with expanding access to conjugate vaccines, yet there are few data on the incidence and risk factors for LRTI in these settings.

METHODS: A prospective birth cohort enrolled mother-infant pairs in 2 communities near Cape Town, South Africa. Active surveillance for LRTI was performed for the first 2 years of life over 4 respiratory seasons. Comprehensive data collection of risk factors was done through 2 years of life. World Health Organization definitions were used to classify clinical LRTI and chest radiographs.

RESULTS: From March 2012 to February 2017, 1143 children were enrolled and followed until 2 years of age. Thirty-two percent of children were exposed to antenatal maternal smoking; 15% were born at low birth weights. Seven hundred ninety-five LRTI events occurred in 429 children by February 2017; incidence of LRTI was 0.51 and 0.25 episodes per child-year in the first and second years of life, respectively. Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-exposed, uninfected infants (vs HIV-unexposed infants) were at increased risk of hospitalized LRTI in the first 6 months of life. In regression models, male sex, low birth weight, and maternal smoking were independent risk factors for both ambulatory and hospitalized LRTI; delayed or incomplete vaccination was associated with hospitalized LRTI.

CONCLUSIONS: LRTI incidence was high in the first year of life, with substantial morbidity. Strategies to ameliorate harmful exposures are needed to reduce LRTI burden in vulnerable populations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1588-1596
Number of pages9
JournalClinical infectious diseases : an official publication of the Infectious Diseases Society of America
Issue number9
Early online date29 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2019
Externally publishedYes


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