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Indian Pediatr. 2004 Feb;41(2):129-35.

Can clinical symptoms or signs accurately predict hypoxemia in children with acute lower respiratory tract infections?

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  • 1Department of Pediatrics, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Ansari Nagar, New Delhi 110 029, India.



To determine clinical predictors of hypoxemia in children with acute lower respiratory tract infection (ALRI).


Cross-sectional study.


Emergency department of All India Institute of Medical Sciences, a tertiary care hospital.


109 under five children, with ALRI.


Clinical symptoms and signs were recorded. Oxygen saturation was determined by a pulse oximeter. Hypoxemia was defined as oxygen saturation less than 90%. The ability of various clinical symptoms and signs to predict the presence of hypoxemia was evaluated.


Twenty-eight (25.7%) children were hypoxemic. No symptoms were statistically associated with hypoxemia. Tachypnea, suprasternal indrawing, intercostal indrawing, lower chest indrawing, cyanosis, crepitations, and rhonchi were statistically significantly associated with hypoxemia. A simple model using the presence of rapid breathing (> or =80/min in children < or =3 m, > or =70/min in >3-12 m and > or =60/min in >12 m) or lower chest indrawing had a sensitivity of 78.5% and specificity of 66.7% for detecting hypoxemia. No individual clinical symptom/sign or a combination had both sufficient sensitivity and specificity to identify hypoxemia.


None of the clinical features either alone or in combination have desirable sensitivity and specificity to predict hypoxemia in children with acute lower respiratory tract infection.

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