Chlamydia pneumoniae is an important cause of community-acquired pneumonia in school-aged children: serological results of a prospective, population-based study

Scand J Infect Dis. 1999;31(3):255-9. doi: 10.1080/00365549950163536.


The aetiology of community-acquired pneumonia in childhood was studied in the total population of 8851 children in the area of 4 municipalities in eastern Finland. All cases of community-acquired pneumonia (n = 201) were registered during a surveillance period of 12 months between September 1, 1981 and August 31, 1982. The diagnosis of pneumonia was verified radiologically in all identified cases. The diagnosis of chlamydial infection was based on an antibody response measured by complement fixation (CF), by enzyme immunoassay (EIA; IgG or IgM) or by microimmunofluorescence (MIF; IgG or IgM), and the diagnosis of mycoplasmal infection on CF alone. In total, 29 cases of Chlamydia sp. infection were diagnosed; 20 were caused by Chlamydia pneumoniae. Thus, C. pneumoniae was an aetiological agent in 10%, of the 201 pneumonia cases: the proportion was 9% for children aged 5-9 y and 31% for those aged 10 y or more. In the study population, the total incidence of C. pneumoniae pneumonia was 2.3/1000/y. Mycoplasma pneumoniae serology (CF) was positive in 44 patients (22%); the total incidence of M. pneumoniae pneumonia was 5.0/1000/y. Serological evidence of both Chlamydiae and M. pneumoniae was detected in 9 (41%) patients. Our results indicate that C. pneumoniae is an important cause of community-acquired pneumonia in school-aged children. Diagnostic serological response to Chlamydia species or M. pneumoniae was found in 42% of pneumonia patients between 5 and 9 y of age and in 67% of patients aged 10 y or more. Thus, we suggest that macrolides should be considered as an empirical antimicrobial treatment for community-acquired pneumonia, especially in school-aged outpatients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Antibodies, Bacterial / blood
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chlamydia Infections / diagnosis
  • Chlamydia Infections / epidemiology*
  • Chlamydia Infections / microbiology
  • Chlamydophila pneumoniae* / immunology
  • Community-Acquired Infections / diagnosis
  • Community-Acquired Infections / epidemiology
  • Community-Acquired Infections / microbiology
  • Female
  • Finland / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Mycoplasma pneumoniae / immunology
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / diagnosis
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / epidemiology*
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / microbiology
  • Pneumonia, Mycoplasma / diagnosis
  • Pneumonia, Mycoplasma / epidemiology
  • Pneumonia, Mycoplasma / microbiology
  • Population Surveillance
  • Prospective Studies
  • Serologic Tests


  • Antibodies, Bacterial