Introduction: Aspiration pneumonia in children is an important disease in terms of the morbidity and mortality associated with it. The objective of this study is to characterize the cases of aspiration pneumonia on the basis of the predisposing factors, types of aspiration syndromes, materials aspirated and their clinical outcome.
Methods: A total of 107 patients diagnosed as having aspiration pneumonia, were included in this study. Cases were between 0-15 years of age, admitted to the Aga Khan University Hospital (AKUH) over five years.
Results: The most common form of aspiration syndrome seen was chemical pneumonitis (52.1%). The three most common factors predisposing to pulmonary aspiration were accidental ingestion (37.4%), altered consciousness (34.6%) and neurologic disorders (29%). Children who aspirated oropharyngeal flora were at higher odds to require mechanical ventilation than those aspirating inert fluids and particulate matter (OR = 6.4, 95% CI: 1.5-29.2, p = 0.003). Milk (31.8%), kerosene (21.5%) and oral secretions (19.6%) were the most common materials aspirated. Betel nuts were the most commonly aspirated foreign body. Patients aspirating oral secretions and milk were seen to have a relatively worse clinical outcome than those aspirating kerosene oil.
Conclusion: Aspiration pneumonia is a relatively uncommon clinical entity at AKUH in children. However, it does cause significant morbidity and mortality.