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Paediatr Respir Rev. 2013 Mar;14(1):53-60. doi: 10.1016/j.prrv.2011.11.001. Epub 2011 Dec 8.

Recurrent lower respiratory tract infections in children: a practical approach to diagnosis.

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Department of Maternal and Pediatric Sciences, Università degli Studi di Milano, Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milano, Italy.


Many children are affected by recurrent lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs), but the majority of them do not suffer from serious lung or extrapulmonary disease. The challenge for clinicians is to distinguish the recurrent RTIs with self-limiting or minor problems from those with underlying disease. The aim of this review is to describe a practical approach to children with recurrent LRTIs that limits unnecessary, expensive and time-consuming investigations. The children can be divided into three groups on the basis of their personal and family history and clinical findings: 1) otherwise healthy children who do not need further investigations; 2) those with risk factors for respiratory infections for whom a wait-and-see approach can be recommended; and 3) those in whom further investigations are mandatory. However, regardless of the origin of the recurrent LRTIs, it is important to remember that prevention by means of vaccines against respiratory pathogens (i.e. type b Haemophilus influenzae, pertussis, pneumococcal and influenza vaccines) can play a key role.

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