One out of every five deaths of children under age 5 is caused by pneumonia.
Coughs, colds, sore throats and runny noses are common in the lives of children. Usually they are no cause for alarm. In some cases, however, coughs are danger signs of more serious illnesses, such as pneumonia or tuberculosis. Pneumonia is the world’s leading cause of death in girls and boys under age 5, closely followed by diarrhoea. All girls and boys have the right to quality health care to make sure that respiratory infections and other illnesses are accurately diagnosed and treated before it is too late.
Some facts to know about pneumonia
A child with a cough or cold should be kept warm and encouraged to eat and drink as much as possible.
Sometimes, coughs are signs of a serious problem. A child who is breathing rapidly or with difficulty might have pneumonia, an infection of the lungs. This is a life-threatening disease. The child needs immediate treatment from a trained health worker, who can also provide a referral to a health facility.
Families can help prevent pneumonia by making sure babies are exclusively breastfed for the first six months and that all children are well nourished and fully immunized.
A child who has a prolonged cough that persists for more than three weeks needs immediate medical attention. The child may have tuberculosis, an infection in the lungs.
Children and pregnant women exposed to smoke from tobacco or cooking fires are at greater risk of pneumonia or other breathing illnesses.