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Indian J Pediatr. 2011 Sep;78(9):1127-35. doi: 10.1007/s12098-011-0412-2. Epub 2011 May 4.

Acute community acquired pneumonia in emergency room.

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Department of Pediatrics, Advanced Pediatrics Centre, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh 160012, India.


Community acquired pneumonia is the leading killer of children under the age of 5 years. In ER, a diagnosis of pneumonia may be made and the severity graded on basis of WHO's classification for pneumonia in children up to 5 years of age. It relies on age-specific respiratory rate, presence of lower chest indrawing and signs of severe illness. A diagnosis of pneumonia is made if a febrile child has history of cough and difficult or rapid breathing and a respiratory rate above age specific threshold; however, signs of airway obstruction should be ruled out. Severe pneumonia is diagnosed if with the above features lower chest wall retraction is present; nonetheless, all infants below 2 months and children with moderate to severe malnutrition with pneumonia are categorized as having severe pneumonia. A chest radiograph is indicated only if the diagnosis is in doubt; complications are suspected and there is severe/very severe or recurrent pneumonia. Non-severe pneumonia is treated at home with oral amoxicillin for 3-5 days. If there is no improvement in 48 h it is changed to amoxicillin-clavulanate. Azithromycin is added for atypical pneumonia. Indications for hospitalization include age <2 months, treatment failure on oral antibiotics, severe/very severe or recurrent pneumonia, shock, hypoxemia, severe malnutrition, immunocompromised state. Severe pneumonia is treated with injectable ampicillin; Cloxacillin is added if clinical/radiographic features suggest Staphylococcal infection. On review after 48 h, if improved, the child may be sent home on oral amoxicillin for 5 more days; if not, it is treated as very severe pneumonia. Very severe pneumonia is treated with injectable Ampicillin plus gentamicin. If improved after 48 h, oral amoxicillin and gentamicin are continued for 10 days. If not, respiratory support is enhanced, antibiotics are changed to intravenous ceftriaxone and amikacin and further work up is planned. Children with chronic diseases and recurrent pneumonia require specific antibiotics depending on the underlying cause.

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