Why are children easy to get pneumonia?

In outpatients, more than 60% of children suffer from acute respiratory infections; in emergency rooms, this proportion will increase by 10% to 20%; among hospitalized children, the upper and lower respiratory tract infections also exceed 60%. In 2010, the World Health Organization wrote in the world-renowned “Lancet” magazine that “out of the 7.6 million deaths of children younger than 5 years old in the world, approximately 1.4 million (18%) were caused by pneumonia.”

Bronchitis in children

Why is this? The answer parents can find is nothing more than: wearing too much or too little clothes, sweating a lot after activities, failing to change clothes in time, falling asleep on the quilt and catching cold, insufficient milk from the mother causes malnutrition of infants and other diseases Of adults or children, etc. These answers are correct, but there are deeper reasons.

From the perspective of the medical profession, the main reasons why children are susceptible to pneumonia can be summarized into the following three aspects.

One is determined by the characteristics of the anatomical structure of the respiratory tract in children.

Children’s trachea and bronchial lumen are relatively narrow and lack elastic tissue, smooth muscle development is not perfect, mucus secretion is not enough and drier, mucociliary movement is poor, so the ability to clear respiratory tract microorganisms is not strong. Children’s lung tissue also appears to have more qi and less blood due to developmental reasons, and bacteria are more likely to grow after they invade the lungs.

The second is determined by the physical characteristics of children.

Children’s breathing rate is several times faster than that of adults, and the younger the faster, they lack the ability to compensate. In other words, as soon as more oxygen is needed, the child’s breathing rate cannot be faster and there is a shortage of oxygen. The lungs cannot cope with the additional burden of respiratory tract infection, and the condition after infection will aggravate and be difficult to control. Children’s vital capacity and ventilation are relatively small, and the oxygen content of the lungs is relatively lacking, which is not conducive to the repair of lung tissue after injury. There is also a term that reflects the compensatory ability of breathing called “airway resistance”. Children’s airway resistance is greater than that of adults. Airway resistance is related to the size of the airway tube diameter. The tube diameter increases with development, and the resistance varies with age. And diminishing. In addition, when infants and young children suffer from pneumonia, the airway lumen mucosa swells, secretions increase, bronchospasm and other factors make the lumen narrower and have greater resistance, so respiratory failure is prone to occur.

The third is determined by the characteristics of children’s immunity.

The antibodies produced by human lymphoid tissues are a powerful weapon to eliminate or prevent pathogenic microorganism infections, but children’s immune functions cannot reach or approach adult levels until they are 12 years old. There is an antibody called “secreted IgA”, which plays a particularly important role in the defense of respiratory mucosa against microbial infections. Unfortunately, the level of this antibody in newborns and infants is very low, which has become another important reason for susceptibility to infection. Breastfeeding children can get this antibody from the milk, while those who eat milk powder can only produce it on their own, so artificially fed children are more likely to develop respiratory infections.

Children’s body structure and functions are fragile and can only be overcome slowly by development. However, if the parenting method is scientific and the focus on exercise from an early age can make up for the shortcomings to the greatest extent and prevent the occurrence of pneumonia.

Streptococcus pneumoniae and penicillin

Under the microscope, Streptococcus pneumoniae is shaped like a spearhead and is often arranged in short chains. It is named because it causes lobar pneumonia in adults and bronchial pneumonia in children under 3 years of age. The bacteria was discovered by the famous French microbiologist Pasteur in 1881. At that time, many people died after being infected with the bacteria. It was not until the discovery of penicillin that deaths caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae infection were greatly reduced. Now, although many kinds of antibiotics have been invented, penicillin is still the most powerful nemesis of Streptococcus pneumoniae.

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