It’s scary but true: 16% of all deaths of children under 5 are caused by pneumonia according to research from the World Health Organization. That’s over 900,000 in 2015 alone. Although many of these are in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, tens of thousands are diagnosed with this respiratory infection in the USA alone.
There is no need to panic, however. By following this guide and making a few simple changes to your child’s habitat you can make a big difference in their chance of catching this deadly disease.
Although countless articles have been published arguing for and against vaccinating children, the evidence is clear: the best way of protecting a child against pneumonia is to immunize them against Hib, measles, pertussis and pneumococcus. The pneumococcus vaccine directly protects them against pneumonia, while the remainder can significantly reduce the time the child is ill if they do catch pneumonia. Furthermore, catching measles significantly increases your risk of getting pneumonia, so vaccinating against measles also really helps to reduce the chances of infection from pneumonia in babies.
Many pieces of research have proven a direct link between breastfeeding and a child’s chances of catching pneumonia. Babies who were not breastfed are around four times more likely to suffer from it. This is because children receive vital antibodies in their mother’s milk. Mothers give babies antibodies to diseases they are immune to. Babies also transfers their germs to their mothers, causing a mom’s body to start creating antibodies against those germs. These antibodies are then passed back to the baby.
3. Know the Symptoms of Pneumonia in Others
Both the bacteria and the virus that causes pneumonia are highly contagious, so it pays to know the symptoms of the disease. That way, you can keep your children away from anyone you think might be carrying it. The most common symptoms are ‘wet’ sounding coughs, labored breathing, fever, chest pain, vomiting, diarrhea, decreased appetite, decreased energy, and blue coloring around the mouth, nose or nails. There is also a significant link between older people and cases of pneumonia, so keep a watchful eye on grandparents.
These are the 3 biggest ways to prevent the spread of pneumonia, but there are a few other things to be mindful of. Crowded environments with smoking or other forms of pollution make people more susceptible to the disease, as do poor hygiene and handling contaminated objects. So stay clean, stay safe, and most importantly of all, vaccinate!