Pneumonia is one of the diseases that cause children deaths over the world especially in developing countries. Every year more than 1.9 million children die due to pneumonia. According to WHO, pneumonia is the leading infectious cause of death in children worldwide, accounting for 15% of all deaths of children under 5 years old. In 2013, an estimation of about 935 000 children under the age of five died because of the disease.
Pneumonia is an inflammation that touches lungs especially the air sacs or what is known as alveoli. When lungs are infected, alveoli are filled with pus and fluid, something that makes breathing painful and limits oxygen intake. The disease is mostly caused by viruses, bacteria infection, and fungi and it is known by symptoms including chest pain, cough, and breathing problems.
A recently published study investigated the prevalence of pneumonia in developing countries among young children and tried to understand the disease’s relation with nutrition. The study was conducted by a group of researchers from department of Applied Nutrition and Food Technology, Islamic University, Kushtia, Bangladesh. Researchers tried to find the relation between nutritional status and incidence of pneumonia and diarrhoea among children under the age of 5 with reference to socioeconomic status of their parents.
The study enrolled a total of 400 children aged between 0-60 months from poor families and low educational level. Results showed that “the higher prevalence (62.72%) and frequency (1.85) of pneumonia was found in under 12 months of age.” The rate in all children surveyed was 53%.
Malnutrition is among the factors behind pneumonia. The study stated “even poor nutrition or marginal malnutrition can predispose children to pneumonia.” This is understood through the challenging situation of childhood nutrition in the Asian countries as referred to in the study “childhood malnutrition is comparatively high in Southern Asia likely 45-48% in Bangladesh, India and Nepal, 38% in Pakistan and 30% in Sri Lanka.”
Also, scientists supposed a relation between pneumonia and anemia. They said that “anemia also significantly increases the risk of pneumonia in children which indicate that anemia might be a risk factor for lower respiratory tract infections including pneumonia…” Besides, the study made reference to other factors that can lead to pneumonia including “low birth weight, underweight, and lack of breastfeeding” the study said.
UNICEF revealed encouraging statistics stating that “global under-five mortality rate has declined by nearly half (49%) since 1990, dropping from 90 to 46 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2013.” However, the world, especially developing countries where the rates are still high, need to face diseases that raise child mortality including pneumonia and diarrhea that “kill 1.2 million of children every year than any other illness – more than AIDS, malaria and measles.”