Acute respiratory infections commonest illness in children – Physician

A family physician, Dr Jonathan Anjola says acute respiratory infection is the commonest illness in children six to 10 years.

The physician said this in an interview with the press in Abuja.

He said it was common for children six to 10 years to suffer respiratory tract infections in a year.

According to him, in about 10 to 30 per cent, the lower respiratory tract is also affected.

He said that the peak incidence is at six to 12 months of age, with an increase when the child first mixes with large numbers of children at nursery or school.

Anjola said that most respiratory infections are mild, self-limiting and caused by viruses.

The incidence of lower respiratory tract infections such as pneumonia, bronchiolitis and bronchitis had been assessed in prospective studies.

When assessing children who present with repeated chest infections it is important to recognise the factors that affect the incidence of these infections in children,” said the expert.

He said that child’s age influences the type and frequency of all respiratory infections.

The normal fall in the incidence of respiratory infection with age reflects the pattern of exposure to infection and the development of the child’s immunity.”

According to him, some infections occur only in children within specific age band, acute bronchitis occurs almost exclusively in infants aged 1-8 months.

Although many affected children have recurrent cough, wheeze and breathlessness for months or years afterwards.

Age also affects severity and two-thirds of childhood deaths due to respiratory infections occur in infancy,” he said.

He said that lower respiratory infections were more common in boys than girls for what could not be fathom at the moment.

Infants born prematurely, and particularly those who develop chronic lung disease of prematurity after ventilation, frequently require hospital admission for respiratory infections in early childhood,” he said.

He said that the mortality from infection in these infants was higher than in term infants.

The physician said that parents who smoke increase the risk of all respiratory illnesses and symptoms, and particularly lower respiratory tract infection in children.

He said that the effect is greater in infants than in older children just as is related more to maternal than paternal smoking, and is dose-related.

Both maternal smoking during pregnancy and postnatal passive exposure predispose the children of smokers to recurrent respiratory infections and symptoms, Anjola warned.

Source: Voice of Nigeria